Peace of mind insurance? Is this a new insurable risk that lawyers have found an answer to?
No. But this is what a Power of Attorney could be considered to be.
I often say to clients that a Power of Attorney is ‘like peace of mind insurance’ so I thought that it would be interesting to reconsider the granting of a Power of Attorney in this way. This is why I have reviewed Powers of Attorney as if they were an insurance or financial product.
Let’s have a look at the main features of having a Power of Attorney in place: –
If you lose capacity. Be it through old age, illness or an accident you have appointed someone who can act on your behalf in relation to your finances, property and welfare. This can make things so much simpler for those who care for and support you. The Power of Attorney will allow you to sleep easy at night knowing that, if the worst happened, someone was there to ‘step into your shoes’. This may involve managing your money and making decisions regarding the care and medical treatment you receive if you were unable to make those decisions for yourself.
How do you know that this is a quality product? Well, thousands and thousands of them have already been granted and used successfully. You can take confidence from the fact that the Power of Attorney will be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian for Scotland whose role is not only to maintain a public register of Powers of Attorney but to supervise the operation of powers of attorney.
Quite simply, a Power of Attorney should stay in place until you die however, it often remains unused whilst you have capacity to manage your own affairs. This means that who you choose to be your attorney(s) is very important. Other than this, you are able to revoke the Power of Attorney yourself if you ever change your mind, whilst you retain capacity.
It is a one-time cost. Typically, you will pay a fixed fee with only one outlay being the registration fee charged by the Office of the Public Guardian. Remember, if you lose capacity without having granted a Power of Attorney your family may need to consider applying for a guardianship order to manage your affairs, potentially incurring much more expense on your behalf.
Another feature of a Power of attorney is that you do not need to have lost capacity for it be used in relation to your property or finances. Typical examples of this include people who have mobility problems which prevent them from getting out to deal with matters on their own behalf. In this case, you may instruct your Attorney to carry out specific actions on your behalf and they remain accountable to you.
I hope I have illustrated how a Power of Attorney may be used as a product to assist you with managing your finances as well as being something which comes into place if you lose capacity.
It is important to remember that the benefit of a Power of Attorney is far more than “peace of mind insurance” ultimately, you hope your attorney will never need to use it. As I often say to clients, ‘if we put this in place for you and your attorney never has to use it, that is no bad thing. But, you will have peace of mind that if they do, it is good to go’.
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