A Will is a document that ensures your wishes are carried out after your death. But what if you’ve not died but are incapacitated? How would you pay the bills if you had dementia? How would your business operate if you were in a coma following an accident? There are a whole host of reasons – both temporary and permanent – which may mean there is a time when you are unable to manage your own affairs. You can plan for this now by nominating a trusted family member, friend or advocate to act on your behalf should the need ever arise. The mechanism for this is called a Power of Attorney.
Without one, your family would have to apply through the courts for a financial guardianship order if you were incapacitated. This is expensive. This takes time. There is no other mechanism. Without a Power of Attorney, your partner or children would be breaking the law if they accessed money or acted on your behalf.
To put a Power of Attorney in place, a medical doctor or solicitor has to agree that you are of sound mind at the time of signing. However once signed, the document is there and ready to be used should the need arise. If you develop a permanently debilitating condition such as Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, the Power of Attorney will come into operation. If you develop a temporary condition and later recover, the power of attorney will become dormant and you will resume control of your affairs. Or if you are of sound mind but unable to sign important documents because you are, for example, overseas, your attorney can act on your behalf.
If a Will is one of the most important documents you can create for when the inevitable happens, a Power of Attorney is one of the most important documents you can create for when the unexpected happens.