Power of Attorney can come across as a formidable foe and seem complex to navigate. As a result, many avoid confronting this process and can be left vulnerable in the future. In reality, Power of Attorney can be quite straightforward, especially when compared to the risks of not having protection over future care decisions and being able to continue living in your own home.
Power of Attorney is simply a legal framework and documentation. This allows someone to make decisions or act on behalf of someone else. This could just be a temporary situation, for example someone may need their bills paid while they are temporarily incapacitated. There is a more serious side to Power of Attorney; someone may lose the mental capacity to make their own decisions in the future. This could be as a result of dementia, terminal illness, an acquired brain injury etc.
Lasting Power of Attorney
The main type of Power of Attorney is called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA covers decisions about the financial affairs, health and well-being of an individual. This comes into effect if someone loses their mental capacity, or if they no longer want to make decisions for themselves.
The Importance of Power of Attorney
I have my own experiences of Power of Attorney over the years of supporting people with live in care. Families who have invested a little time and money in completing the Power of Attorney process are often better prepared. Decisions regarding finances and healthcare are more informed and focused on the individual rather than assumption. Unfortunately, many of us do not acknowledge these areas of later life and are unwilling to take this important step.
Research within the South of England suggests that approx. 86% of people want their family to make decisions on their behalf. Approx. 85% of these same people do not have a Power of Attorney in place for decisions to be made. Over 96% of people want to stay living in their own home.
Imagine for a moment this very common situation. You or a loved one is unable to make their own decisions regarding care and finances. No Power of Attorney is in place, therefore you are exposed to others making crucial decisions on your behalf. Such decisions that may not be in your best interests or what you would have wished.
Statistics reveal that Individuals are wanting to stay living in their own home but need a greater level of care and support. Often decisions are made for the individual to sell their home and move into residential care. These decisions are frequently made without the consent of the individual and can affect the person’s health and well-being. It is entirely realistic that people remain in their own home with live in care and the support of a Lifestyle Companion.
A Power of Attorney can be set up online or through a qualified solicitor. Both are legally binding as long as they are completed in full and signed off. Age UK have some useful information and guidance for those who are wanting to explore this further – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/legal-issues/power-of-attorney/