Power of attorney – what you need to know

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By AdFeatures | Wednesday, October 31, 2012, 07:44

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A power of attorney is a legal document that enables an individual to hand over control of their finances and other legal matters to the person they nominate as power of attorney.

There are various reasons why somebody chooses to nominate someone as power of attorney. For example, you may be in hospital for a lengthy amount or time or are going on holiday and want someone to be able to manage all financial and legal matters in your absence. You should give power of attorney only to somebody that you know well and completely trust because after all you are handing them control of some of the most important aspects of your life – your finances and your health.

Attorney-in-fact

When you give somebody power of attorney they become your ‘attorney-in-fact’. Powers of attorney don’t have to be given control of all your personal matters as you may give them as little or as much authority of your legal affairs as you desire.

For example, you may grant your attorney-in-fact authorisation to pay your bills, file tax returns, complete dealings for you on the stock market and conduct banking transactions.

Durable power of attorney for health care

Nominating someone as durable power of attorney for health care enables the designated individual to make all the decisions about your health care and medical choices if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.

Durable power of attorney for heath care is much wider and broader than a living will, which only enables somebody to make health care decisions for you if you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill and are not capable of expressing your wishes about issues such as life-prolonging drugs and procedures.

By comparison, a health care power of attorney is not limited to making choices related to your health care only if you are in a permanently unconscious state or are terminally ill. The decisions your health care power of attorney will be able to make are also not limited to matters about life prolonging procedures.

Legal stipulations for power of attorney

Contrary to what may people presume, married spouses do not have automatic legal control over their partner’s personal matters. In order to give someone power of attorney several legalities have to be completed.

Firstly, the individual signing the power of attorney must be in a stable mental condition and cannot be mentally ill or mentally disabled. This individual must be signing the power of attorney document on their own free will.

Secondly, there must be two witnesses at the signing, which cannot be relations of either the person giving someone power of attorney or the individual signing for power of attorney.

The need for powers of attorney

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, by 2025 more than one million people in the UK will have dementia. When considering this shockingly high statistic it makes sense to make a will and give someone power of attorney sooner rather than later.

      

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