If you’re wanting to look into appointing a power of attorney, or you’ve been asked to become someone else’s, this article will highlight the rights and responsibilities of one, as well as what they can and can’t do.
Firstly, what is a power of attorney?
Lasting powers of attorney can make financial and/or health decisions on an individual’s behalf.
There are two types of power of attorney, medical and financial. You can either sign up for both types of attorney or just one. You can also choose to appoint someone different for each or ask the same person to be your medical and financial POA.
It’s worth mentioning that you can have more than one power of attorney. They can work ‘jointly’ meaning they make all decisions together, or ‘jointly and severally’ meaning they can act together or separately. It’s also a good idea to appoint replacement attorneys in case something happens, and they can no longer act on your behalf.
When choosing who will be your power of attorney, you must have the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. This means that you are in the right mind to understand the decisions you are making, why you’re making them, and what the outcome of the decision may be. They will then start to make decisions for you once you lose mental capacity.
Lasting powers of attorney are the most common type and don’t have an expiry date. You can choose for it to commence as soon as the document is registered or as soon as you lose mental capacity.
What powers of attorney can do
Essentially, powers of attorney can make decisions on your behalf. It’s entirely up to you what you want your POA to have the power in deciding.
A health and medical POA can make decisions in the following:
– Where the individual lives
– What they eat
– Who they have contact with
– Day to day care and routine
– Social activities
– Medical care including hospital care, home health care, etc.
– Can go against a doctor’s suggestions only if they feel it is not in the best interest of the individual.
It is important to remember that you can only make health and medical decisions as a power of attorney once the individual has lost mental capacity.
A financial POA can make decisions in the following:
– Manage bank accounts
– Make property investments on the individual’s behalf
– Manage the person’s property eg renting it out, selling it, or buying property on their behalf
– Maintain or repair their home
– Pay bills
– Claim benefits
– Purchase items they need
Power of attorneys can claim back expenses such as travel costs and postage if required, claiming it out of the individual’s money. However, they can’t claim fees for time spent doing their duties, apart from professional attorneys such as a solicitor.
All power of attorneys must act in the best interest of the individual. This means that they should make decisions they think the individual would make themselves.
What they can’t do
– Make changes to the individual’s will
– Give large financial gifts to others
– Pay yourself using their funds
– Make a personal gain out of being their attorney
– Make decisions that will restrict the individual’s freedom
Who can become a power of attorney?
When someone is appointed as an individual’s power of attorney, they usually know the person very well. This can include the following:
– A person’s husband, wife, partner, or civil partner
– A family member
– A friend
– A professional such as a solicitor
Make sure that whoever you ask is comfortable to act on your behalf and understands what they can and can’t do as a power of attorney.
Hopefully this has helped clarify the roles and responsibilities of a power of attorney. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, especially if you know that your mental capacity may deteriorate in the future, so having a power of attorney in place can help bring you some peace of mind. You want to make sure that someone you trust is in charge of your future decisions, and a POA allows you to make sure that this happens.