this article featured in our February 2020 newsletter

Frank was only 35 when he made a Power of Attorney. He only did it because his wife, Janette had nagged him for months about it. She’s read somewhere that if you couldn’t look after your own affairs, if you had granted a Power of Attorney, someone you trusted would be able to look after your affairs for you.

Deep down, Frank thought is was a lot of nonsense and that a Power of Attorney was only for an old person who were on the edge of dementia. However, he gave in to Janette’s nagging and went ahead and had one prepared anyway. Of course, Janette had one prepared too!

The Powers of Attorney were combined welfare and financial Powers of Attorney.  They were registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland. Their lawyer gave Frank and Janette copies to keep for reference.

Frank was a successful self-employed builder. He had ten full-time employees and his business was growing year on year.

On the night of his fortieth birthday, Frank and Janette were out celebrating with some friends. They left the restaurant close to midnight when their taxi arrived to take them home. It was a cold night and it was getting a little bit icy. About a mile from home, the taxi driver slowed down to take a right turn when a car shot out from the road they were turning into and smashed into the back of the taxi just at the rear passenger door where Frank was sitting. Even though he was wearing his seat belt, Frank was thrown backwards and his head smashed against the side of the taxi. He didn’t remember anything else for quite some time.

Janette escaped relatively unscathed from the collision and whilst being very angry with the other driver realised very quickly that Frank had sustained a very serious head injury. He was unresponsive and there was blood coming from his ears and nose. Someone had clearly called 999 and the emergency services were on the scene very quickly. Frank was rushed to hospital and went straight into theatre. The surgeons repaired the damage Frank had sustained as best they could and put him into an induced coma to keep him stable. He was in the coma for six weeks. Whilst he was in a very bad way, the doctors were confident that he would recover, but to what extent was still unknown.

Whilst Frank was in hospital, life went on with Janette. She very quickly realised just how much Frank had to do every day to run his business – taking calls from and meeting with customers, arranging the workload, dealing with the accounts and financial side of the business. Janette discussed the position with the employees, most of whom had been with Frank for quite some time and decided she would run the business during Frank’s recovery. She arranged a meeting with the bank to discuss the position. They explained to her that as Frank was a sole trader and whilst they sympathised with her, they couldn’t actually discuss anything with her because they didn’t have any authority to do so. Janette then explained that Frank had granted a Power of Attorney in her favour a number of years previously and she’d asked her lawyer to send it on to the bank. She then arranged another meeting for the following week.

When she met with the bank the next week, they couldn’t have been more helpful. Whilst they’d been sympathetic at the previous meeting, they couldn’t discuss any of Frank’s accounts. On this visit it was very different – it was as if they were discussing the accounts and financial affairs with Frank himself – you see, a Power of Attorney gives your attorney the power to step into your shoes and act just as you would act.

Janette had to deal with a number of financial, employment and other business issues whilst Frank was in hospital and because Frank had granted a Power of Attorney in her favour, she could do so with ease.

Many months later, Frank made a full recovery and resumed the running of the business from Janette.

Frank said “I always thought the Power of Attorney was a complete waste of time and only something that old people would think about. Thank goodness Janette harped on and on about it. I shudder to think what kind of mess we’d have been in if Janette hadn’t persuaded me to grant that Power of Attorney. If you ask me now what I think about it, I’d encourage everyone to have one – irrespective of age”

Jeanette was understandably relieved that Frank had made a full recovery. When asked what made her go on and one about Frank granting a Power of Attorney, she said “I’d read somewhere that you can grant a Power of Attorney and still go on making your own decisions and get on with your life without it interfering with anything you wanted to do – but that if something happened, if you had one, someone you trusted could look after everything for you. It was kind of like an insurance policy. Thank goodness Frank listened to me – for once”!

As you can see from this story, a Power of Attorney isn’t just for older people. You can grant one and it only comes into play if you can no longer look after your own affairs and should that happen, you’ll thank your lucky stars you made one!

If you would like to discuss a Power of Attorney, please get in touch.