Every week I still come across people who do not have a power of attorney in place.
An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone else to take action and make decisions on your behalf. It can either come into force immediately, if required, or when the individual loses mental capacity.
It is vital that a power of attorney is set up while the individual can prove they are of sound mind. Once there is evidence of dementia it can be very difficult to set one up.
Without an enduring power of attorney in place, it may be necessary to go to court in order to access bank accounts and investments.
The new pension freedoms that came into force last year allow varying amounts to be withdrawn from pension funds which means that the pensioner must either have capacity to decide how much to take, or have an enduring power of attorney in place to allow someone else to make the decision.
It isn’t expensive to set up powers of attorney and many financial planners and solicitors can advise you on this.
Be very careful though, about researching this subject online. The law is very different in England where Enduring Powers of Attorney have been replaced by the much more expensive and complicated Lasting Powers of Attorneys.
There is still a window of opportunity to set up the cheaper Enduring Powers of Attorney before the law changes in Northern Ireland.
Provided you still have mental capacity to do so, you can amend or cancel your enduring power of attorney at any time.
More than one attorney can be appointed and it is possible to set it up so that both attorneys must sign in order for the transaction to happen or it can be set up so that only one of the attorneys is needed to carry out a transaction on your behalf.
Whichever way you do it, provided you are over 18 and of sound mind, you shouldn’t delay in setting one up as illness and injury can strike at any age.
David Hill is a Chartered Financial Planner and Independent Financial Adviser at Hills Financial Planning, 15 Agnew Street, Larne. Contact: 028 28276814 or firstname.lastname@example.org