Unfortunately, some of us will be left unable to make our own decisions due to an accident or ill health.
People often assume important decisions about money, care, or medical treatment can be taken by their ‘next of kin’. However, family have no right to make decisions unless you have signed a formal Power of Attorney.
If you have a preference about who makes decisions for you, then you should record these in a Power of Attorney. It is particularly important that you, or your relatives, do this following a diagnosis of a progressive illness, such as dementia.
What is involved
A Power of Attorney is a legal document appointing your Attorney as the person who will make decisions about your welfare and/or financial affairs. You can appoint more than one person and you can also appoint a substitute to step in if your main Attorney cannot act. For example, many people appoint a partner with their children named as substitutes. If you change your mind , then it is possible to revoke the Power of Attorney.
Some people may also want to leave instructions about the care and medical treatment they want in the event of specific conditions or circumstances. If you want advice about this, please ask.
What happens if there is no Power of Attorney?
If a person loses capacity and has not appointed an Attorney, then an application for guardianship may be necessary. This can cause delays of 6-12 months and will generally be more expensive. It is normally necessary to renew guardianship every 3 – 10 years, but a Power of Attorney can last until someone dies.