When do I need to appoint a Power of Attorney?
If you didn’t listen to us about Power of Attorneys, maybe you’ll listen to Martin Lewis…
You may remember we did a whole campaign on Wills and Power of Attorneys (POAs) at the end of 2022. We explained why you needed them and to further persuade you, we donated £50 of the fee to Radio Forth’s Cash for Kids, raising a whopping £1,700 in the process. But we get it, legal stuff is kind of boring.
We can also agree, however, that Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert is a hero, legend, and icon. Here’s a recap of what he had to say on ITV’s “The Martin Lewis Money Show” last week. Whilst Martin was talking about the English legal system and processes, there are lots of similarities to the Scottish system.
“Power of Attorney is more important than a Will”
We don’t necessarily agree one is more important than the other however, the point Martin made is basically that if you die you’re dead and you don’t need your money anyway. But if you lose your faculties, and your ability to look after yourself mentally, then you need to know your money is safe and can be accessed to look after you. A Power Of Attorney allows you to nominate a friend or family member to take over your finances if you lose your faculties. There are also separate health and welfare POA that allows someone to make decisions outwith finances.
Why would I need a Power Of Attorney?
Although it’s more likely that older people get dementia or suffer from a stroke, an accident that leaves you unable to look after yourself can happen to anyone at any time. For this reason, Martin advises that as soon as you have something worth looking after you get a POA in place. Because without one your family cannot access your money, not even if it’s the money needed to pay for your care.
The money will be locked away and to get access whoever is looking after you would need to apply via the Sheriff Court. This takes time, costs money and is just generally a hassle at a time when they are most likely already stressed. And, on top of this stress, the power to access your money might not go to the person you want it to.
What controls are in place to ensure someone with POA is acting in the best interests of the person they’re representing?
You can set your POA up so that a medical practitioner must state you are not capable of looking after your own affairs before your attorney will act on your behalf in a financial capacity. That is always the case for welfare powers. If there are concerns that an attorney is not acting in your best interest, a report can be submitted to the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) and they shall investigate. It’s best to choose someone you trust to make the decisions for you.
If you appoint multiple people as your POA you can specify that either they all act together or they can act together or independently. The latter is more flexible, but you decide on your preference. It is best that you discuss that with your solicitor.
How do I activate POA?
You must register your POA with the banks straight away if you are in the position where your attorney is going to act immediately. Have copies certified by a solicitor so you don’t have to give the original document over to people.
Martin Lewis, the UK’s next Prime Minister?
It wasn’t just us who enjoyed Martin’s segment, the TikTok comment section was in full agreement on the importance of POAs.
“As a nurse care manager with social work, THANK YOU! The majority of my cases require POA but it’s too late! We can lose capacity at any age!”
“It’s an absolute nightmare without a will and power of attorney, even when you have the best relationships or the smallest of families. Do it!”