Reaching your 30th birthday is one of life’s major milestones.
Even so, setting-up a Power of Attorney sounds a little is premature. Or does it?
There are three very powerful reasons why setting-up a Power of Attorney would be a great birthday gift to yourself at 30 or any age.
• Firstly, accidents and illness can happen at any time. We can’t predict if or when they will happen, but we can take precautions to mitigate the adverse consequences. Life insurance is an obvious example, but having a POA is another – and at least there are no annual premiums to pay. Having a POA in place will mean that whoever you appoint as your Attorney can act on your behalf in the event that you are incapacitated, temporarily or permanently, without having to go through the expensive, time-consuming and stressful process of applying to the court for a Guardianship order.
• Secondly, a POA can be very useful even if you are perfectly capable of making your own decisions. Indeed, Powers of Attorney have been used for generations to give people who are often away from home – working abroad or spending a lot of time at a property overseas – the ability to manage their affairs more easily while they are away. But this is just one example of circumstances where it would help to have a POA in place. Imagine, for example, that you have been physically injured in an accident. You are still perfectly capable of making decisions, but having a trusted friend or relative who could act on your behalf while your mobility was limited through injury would certainly be an asset.
• Thirdly, there is no benefit in delaying making your POA – and some potential costs in not doing so. Once you have a POA in place, it remains dormant until it is required; there is no disadvantage to having it on stand-by. In contrast, if you have an accident or fall ill and you don’t have a POA in place, then it can often be too late to set one-up. The truth is that often people only realise that they need a POA after the event. It’s far better to take action now.
Its up to you to decide how your POA works.
We know that some people hesitate to set-up a POA because they worry that they might lose control of their affairs. But that is not the case.
There are, in fact, two types of POA, although most people set-up both to create a combined POA.
• A welfare POA deals with your care and medical treatment and only ever comes in to effect when you are incapacitated. You can specify who decides when that applies.
• A Continuing POA gives your appointed Attorney the power to deal with your assets and financial affairs. But it is up to you to determine when that POA comes into force and what your Attorney can and cannot do when it does. You can, for example, specify that it only applies if you are incapacitated, and you can set limits on what your Attorney can do with your possessions. The exact terms of your POA are something that you will want to discuss with your solicitor whose experience should enable him or her to give you some sound advice on the conditions you might set, but whatever you decide, you are in charge.
Having a PoA in place enables you to protect your interests if illness or accident strikes.
It saves your family the stress and cost of applying for a guardianship and allows you to choose who your Attorney would be in the event that your POA ever came in to effect. It would make a perfect 30th birthday gift to you and your family, although if you have missed that milestone, the earlier you set-up a POA, the better.
“Life is unpredictable and you need to live every day to the fullest.”Doug Hutchison
We recommend that every adult should have in place an up-to-date Will and a Power of Attorney.
Hastings Legal specialise in providing friendly legal advice and services.
We are are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland so you can be sure that we have your best interests at heart.
Hastings Legal have offices in Kelso, Duns and Selkirk and Eyemouth.
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