12 Feb 2019

Tens of millions of British people haven’t set up a power of attorney

Tens of millions of British people haven’t set up a power of attorney

Tens of millions of British people haven’t set up a power of attorney, though this document could be very important if they become incapacitated.

Direct Line Life insurance has discovered that many people mistakenly believe their loved ones would automatically have the right of make medical decisions if they couldn’t do it themselves.

The Law Society of Scotland explains that 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 usually sets out what you would want to happen in the future if you could no longer look after your own affairs.

It adds that no-one has the right to act on your behalf without your legal authority if a POA is not in place. That means your family or friends may have to go to court to get permission to make decisions for you.

The law society says everyone should consider asking a solicitor to prepare a power of attorney (POA).

With some people, their capacity to look after their affairs is impaired gradually, for instance, as they grow older. But the law society adds that sudden accidents and illnesses can happen to anyone

How does it work?

A POA is a written document which gives the name of the person – the attorney – you would like to help make decisions and take actions on your behalf.

The attorney, or attorneys, should be someone you trust, such as a family member or friend or your solicitor. 

There are two main types of POA in Scotland – a continuing POA covers decisions about your money and property, while a welfare POA relates to your future health or personal welfare.

New research from Direct Line Life Insurance reveals just 14% of Britons have established a POA.

Many people are not aware of the existence of POAs, while more than 80% mistakenly believe that, without a POA in place, their loved ones would automatically be allowed to make decisions about their medical treatment on their behalf if they were to be incapacitated.

Jane Morgan, business manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: “The idea that at some point we may not have the capacity to make our own decisions can be distressing and is not something any of us want to think about.

“However, many people would want legal confirmation that their loved ones can make decisions in future on their behalf if something were to happen to them.

“Important decisions such as when to move someone into a home, or sell their property, cannot be taken lightly and it is important that people plan for these situations however uncomfortable it may be. Having a power of attorney in place can avoid additional distress at an emotional time.”

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Aberdein Considine, we have specialist lawyers who can guide you in the right direction.

If you would like to speak to someone within our private client department about your circumstances, click here.

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