There are many myths spoken and misconceptions about Powers of Attorney and who actually needs to have one in place. It’s time we dispelled them and set the story straight.
So WHO actually needs a Power of Attorney?
The simple answer is quite literally EVERYONE!
MYTH - Powers of Attorney are only for the elderly, infirm or those suffering from dementia (eg, Alzheimer's)
TRUTH - Anyone of any age can suffer from a stroke, serious accident or illness and be unable to manage their affairs for themselves.
MYTH – My next of kin would be able to sort out my affairs if anything happened to me.
TRUTH – Next of kin is a title that can be given, by you, to anyone from your partner to blood relatives and even friends This means that you have no legal rights as a result of this title. This can create difficulties if you haven’t put additional measures in place to manage your relative or loved one’s affairs. If you do not have any legal rights, you cannot make decisions on their behalf.
MYTH – I have a joint bank account with my spouse/ civil partner so it wouldn’t affect us.
TRUTH – Even if you have a joint bank account it is common practice for high street banks to freeze withdrawals from a joint account if one of the account holders becomes mentally incapable.
MYTH – A Power of Attorney is only to allow people to deal with your money.
TRUTH – There are actually TWO types to consider: one for finance and property, and another for health and welfare.
MYTH – If I was seriously ill in hospital then my next of kin would make all medical decisions on my behalf automatically, they would know what I would want.
TRUTH – Unfortunately this is not the case. Without a health and welfare power of attorney in place they would be unable to make decisions over your day-to-day healthcare and medical treatments, as well as deal with any health and social care staff.
It’s important to note that you can only set up a Power of Attorney when you have mental capacity. Once you've lost capacity, it's too late. So, unless you have the relevant Powers of Attorney in place, should anything happen to you then loved ones would need to apply through court to become a deputy, which can be a long and costly process.