VRS Power of Attorney

Planning ahead with a Power of Attorney: don’t wait until it is too late

No one wants to think about what would happen if they lost mental capacity and could no longer manage their affairs. But many people don’t realise that if you don’t appoint someone to have power of attorney when you are mentally and physically capable to do so, it could potentially mean a complete stranger will one day make decisions regarding your future. At best, your preferred representative will have a more complicated and time-consuming struggle to ensure that they can take responsibility for making decisions in your best interests. One of the most common misconceptions around this area is that people assume there is an automatic right for their spouse, or next of kin, to make decisions on their behalf, and deal with their bank accounts and pensions for example, if they are no longer able to do so, but this is not the case.

Everyone knows that we should write a Will, but too few people know that it is also important to consider a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This means choosing another individual, who can be anyone you believe to be appropriate, and giving them the legal authority to look after specific aspects of your financial affairs, or health and welfare, should you lose the capacity to do so. It ensures that even with a mentally debilitating illness, you can feel that you are keeping control by being the person to decide who will take future decisions for you.

It is a depressing statistic, but one that we all need to bear in mind, that by 2025 more than one million people in the UK will have dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. One in five people over 85 already suffers from it, and apparently one person in the UK develops dementia every three minutes. In situations like this, handling your financial affairs becomes impossible, and you need to have decided upon the best person to take decisions on your behalf before it is too late to do so and you are deemed mentally incapacitated.

For, should you fail to do so and there come a time in the future when you don’t have the ability to make or communicate your own decisions, but you haven’t created a LPA, it may be necessary for the Court of Protection to become involved, as only a mentally competent individual can appoint a Power of Attorney for themselves. If you have not done so in time, then the Court can appoint someone to be your deputy, but their powers are very limited compared to someone who has Power of Attorney, it takes time for this to be processed, and there is an annual cost to renew a deputyship.

Once someone holds a Power of Attorney, the VRS are on hand to help them with alerting financial institutions to the circumstances of the individual as and when required, to ensure they are treated appropriately. You can read more information on our website about the process, and the various steps to take, here.

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