We all find some things hard to discuss with our parents. Does power of attorney feature in your shortlist of subjects you’ve been avoiding? Probably not! However, it’s an important conversation to have. Here’s why:
Do I Need a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone else to act on your behalf when you are no longer capable of doing so.
It’s better to put this in place before you need it. This means that if you ever become incapacitated – whether through age, illness or injury – your chosen person can step in straight away.
If you have older family members, they may need a little encouragement to create a power of attorney. While you’re encouraging your parents, it could be a good time to think about it for yourself!
“Are you saying I’m old?”
A power of attorney is most often needed when you are elderly, but you certainly don’t need to be elderly to put one in place!
“But there’s nothing wrong with me!”
You and your parents may be in perfect health, but no one can predict the future.
You could lose capacity in many ways. It could be through a diminishing illness like dementia or it could be sudden, for example through an accident or a stroke. If you suddenly lose your capacity without a power of attorney in place, you will have lost your opportunity to choose someone you trust to act in your best interests.
“I want to decide for myself.”
If you end up suffering from dementia or otherwise lose your ability to communicate, it will be too late to decide who you want to act on your behalf. It is a common misconception that your trusted family member could simply go ahead and make decisions for you. Unfortunately this is not the case.
Without a power of attorney the only way to achieve this would be through an application for a guardianship order. This takes all the decision making away from you. You would have no choice in who was appointed or what powers they might have; the decisions are made by the court. The process to apply for guardianship can be time consuming and expensive.
All this can be avoided by putting a power of attorney in place.
You may be interested in reading about Dementia and Powers of Attorney.
“I value my independence.”
Having a power of attorney in place does not take away your independence. It ensures you get to make the decision about who you would like to act on your behalf and what that person could specifically do.
Powers of attorney are regulated by the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland.
“I need a power of attorney!”
The first step is arranging an appointment with a solicitor. This could be at their office or, if you or your parents need it, the solicitor could make a home/hospital visit. They can then take your instructions and provide you with further information and guidance.
Our personal law solicitors are happy to talk to you about putting a power of attorney in place – contact us.