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The common answers to this question are not, when you are 35 years old, when you are 22 years old, rarely are they when you are 47 years old or 53 years old.

However, these are the ages of clients we have had to make applications to Court for to get a Guardianship Order or Intervention Order because they have lost capacity and their loved ones cannot make essential decisions for them regarding either their welfare or their finances or both.

None of these clients had dementia or Alzheimers Disease, none were of the typical age that you would suspect or consider a loss of capacity.  They had unfortunate and unexpected events –  a stroke at 47, skiing accident at 35, moped accident at 22 and cycling accident at 53.

In each case, the person was deemed as not having the capacity to make their own decisions or not able to communicate their wishes and decisions either temporarily or in some cases permanently.

Rise in decision-making powers given to friends and family

In 2013/2014 there were 45,576 Powers of Attorney register by the OPG.  Last year there were 60,778 registered.  It is likely that this number will increase again this year with the growing need for people to have a POA to be able to help their loved ones in situations that often they have not expected or considered.

From April 2018 – March 2019 the number of POA that were requested to be registered urgently through the OPG’s expedited service was 2975.  This year from April to September that number was 2061.  These are requests that are urgent because the Power of Attorney is required to assist the Adult quickly.  This could be to access funds that are needed to help the Adult or to make medical or care decisions for the Adult that cannot wait.  The stress that this puts on a family can be immense as they are already having to deal with the issue surrounding the Adult that has caused the loss of capacity but then face the daunting prospect of being in limbo as they cannot make a decision.

The number of Guardianship Applications granted and registered by the OPG from April 2018 to March 2019 was 2764.  This is still a high number of Applications where a Power of Attorney could be made but decisions for the Adult need to be made.  The Court process needs to be used to grant, essentially what a person can grant through a POA.  The Court process is not quick and it is costly.

It is reassuring that we see a greater number of POA registrations as this means people are taking on board the now essential need for this document to allow loved ones to help an Adult if capacity is lost.  However, the number of expedited requests and the fact that number of Guardianship applications is not dropping also means that a significant number of people do not have sufficient powers in place to allow their loved ones to help them in, what can be, very difficult and upsetting circumstances.

Think about making a Power of Attorney now

You do not need to wait until you reach your golden years or until something happens to make a Power of Attorney.  Do you participate in sports such as snowboarding, skiing or cycling? Every year, around 3,000 cyclists are seriously injured on British roads. POA should be as essential a part of your preparations as your equipment. Similarly, are you taking a gap year to go travelling or do you have a trip planned to the other side of the world….you have your passport, your backpack and your insurance and visa but have you considered should the unimaginable happen who will be able to deal with your affairs.

You can make it at any time over the age of 16 and as long as you have capacity you can make changes to it at any time.  Having a Power of Attorney in place means that you and your loved ones have the security of knowing that should anything happen, the ability to make decisions for you can be done quickly and easily.

You will usually have life insurance, car insurance, holiday insurance – but do you have the reassurance that if something should happen, your loved ones have the power to step into your shoes and make essential decisions?

Contact The McKinstry Company Power of Attorney Solicitors, Ayrshire & Dumfries and Galloway

If you need advice or assistance regarding Power of Attorney for yourself, or in regard to a loved one, contact us today. Our empathetic and understanding solicitors will be able to assist you and advise on your specific circumstances. To get in touch, please call 01292 388048 or complete our online enquiry form. We look forward to hearing from you.

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