There may come a time when you can no longer manage your own affairs. The law calls it losing “mental capacity” (due to dementia, an accident or a stroke, for example). If it happens, then you’d want someone you trust to manage your finances and make health decisions on your behalf. You set that up with a legal document called a power of attorney, which you make while you still do have mental capacity. So the sooner the better, as you never know what will happen!
You are known as the “donor” and the person you give the power to is the attorney. Normally that is a spouse or partner, a close relative, or just a very good friend.
In England and Wales, lasting powers of attorney cover two things: property and financial affairs, and health and welfare. Normally people will do both powers at the same time, and they cost £82 each. In Scotland the two similar powers cost £81 for both. In Northern Ireland it costs £151 for an enduring power of attorney, which only covers property and money.
A solicitor will do it for you, perhaps charging around £500, but at least you know it is done properly. In England and Wales you can do it yourself online. If you already have an enduring power of attorney made before 2007, that is still valid but only covers financial matters.
You’ll need to ask someone who knows you to be a “certificate provider” to sign your application and confirm you are not being pressured to do it. And, of course, you need to decide on your attorneys – usually two in case one is not available. You can choose a solicitor as attorney but they will charge.
More like this
Your attorney can act and make decisions in your place but everything they do must be in your best interests, not theirs. The Court of Protection can step in if they do not do that. In Scotland the Office of the Public Guardian supervises them, and in Northern Ireland it is the Office of Care and Protection.
QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. I cannot answer you personally, but I will reflect them in this column.