As recent events have shown, a tragic accident can happen to the seemingly healthiest of people at any time, suddenly impacting their ability to make decisions for themselves. That is why it is so important everyone, regardless of age, health or wealth, has a Power of Attorney in place.
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a way of giving someone else permission to make decisions about your money and property as well as your health and personal welfare. It is a legal document usually drawn up by a solicitor and sets out what you would want to happen in the future if you could no longer look after your own affairs. This could be down to illness or sudden accident.
The ‘Attorney’ is someone you trust, such as a family member or friend, who you would like to help make decisions and take actions on your behalf.
Nobody has the right to act on your behalf without your legal authority, therefore should a sudden and tragic accident happen to you, it would be a timely and costly process for your family or friends who may have to go to court to get permission to make decisions for you.
With some people their capacity to look after their affairs is impaired gradually as they grow older. However sudden accidents and illnesses can happen to anyone, at anytime, so it is important you have a Power of Attorney in place now. A POA can only be granted from an individual who can understand and explain their wishes on their own behalf (unlike a Guardianship which applies when a person does not have capacity to act and make decisions on their own behalf), therefore it is something to consider now before it is too late. POAs can be set up relatively quickly. Guardianship appointments however are more difficult to secure – they involve an application to the court and the procedure is lengthy and complex generally taking around 6 months. Guardianships also require to be monitored and Guardianship appointments are usually for a period of 5-10 years, unlike a POA.
Unless you've a Power of Attorney in place already, and an accident or sudden illness happens, loved ones would need to apply through court, which can be long and costly. So it pays to have that safety net sorted now.