If you suffer an accident or an illness which renders you unable to manage your own affairs, your close friends and relatives may find it difficult to help you if you haven’t made prior arrangements for them to do so. By making a power of attorney you could ensure that help is in place if in the future you should need it. A Power of Attorney is a document in which you can appoint someone to act on your behalf in relation to your finances and property and possibly even your health and welfare.
There are different types of powers of attorney and each type will determine the scope or extent of the attorney’s authority. The different types of Powers of attorney are:
Lasting Power of Attorney – Property and Affairs
Lasting Powers of Attorney – Health and Welfare
Enduring Powers of Attorney
Ordinary Powers of Attorney
As the maker of a power of attorney you will be known as a Donor. The person you choose to act on your behalf is known as the Attorney.You can choose more than one attorney and you can state whether they should act together only or together and separately.
An attorney can be given a general authority to act or you can restrict their authority to specific assets or tasks. To make a power of attorney you as the Donor must understand the nature and effect of the document. Where you haven’t the requisite mental capacity to understand the document then the court can appoint someone to act on your behalf. The court appointed person is known as the Deputy and the application for a Deputy appointment is made to the Court of Protection.
Once a power of attorney is made an attorney can act immediately, if you desire it. All, except ordinary powers of attorney, will remain valid if you later lose mental capacity.Many powers of attorney are made for future use and are not necessarily needed for immediate use; they can be treated as a type of insurance policy to cover any possible future need.After making a power of attorney if you later change your mind and wish to cancel (revoke) it then you can do so at anytime whilst you retain mental capacity.
Likewise an attorney can change his or her mind and refuse to act in the capacity as your attorney by disclaiming.Your attorney must always act in your best interests; they should do only as you would have done had you been acting in person. A simple example would be that they can continue to make gifts on your behalf if that was in keeping with your usual behaviour but they cannot increase the value of the gift if they think it too small.