Power of Attorney

Do you need a power of attorney if you are married? All assets are jointly held so I’m not sure what the benefits would be? 


  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,796 Forumite
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    Do you want decisions about where you end up in care, what health care you receive to be made by anyone in particular?

    What happens when the first spouse dies, and the other one lacks mental capacity? Do you want decisions made by Social Services or a family member? 

    And deputyship (the alternative) takes a lot longer to arrange, costs a lot more in fees and is far more onerous regarding management. Your deputy won't thank you for failing to put in place a power of attorney.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,112 Forumite
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    More immediately, having all assets jointly held doesn't necessarily help if one of you becomes incapacitated. 

    It is a horror story, and therefore rare, but the one I have heard involves a couple with young children, where the husband was self-employed. He had an accident, was hospitalised and in a coma. Wife rang the bank to explain and ask for payment holiday on the mortgage, overdraft etc, and ... the bank froze the joint account, to protect the interests of the husband. 

    Which is the correct action to take. A joint account is only appropriate where both parties are able to make decisions / look after it. 

    Of course what more often happens is that one half of a couple gently slides into a lack of capacity. The other picks up the slack, takes over the reins, and the bank never notices. But it's a risk, especially if the second person then loses the plot. 

    Which reminds me, it's on the To Do list of a dear friend. I need to gently enquire how they're getting on. They really do need it: living alone, no close relatives - so if they need an advocate, for anything, they need the LPA for Wealth and Health IMO. 

    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,792 Forumite
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    You should make LPAs especially for finance. If for example one of you lost mental capacity through a stroke or accident you life could be made very difficult. Under these circumstances you might need to move into more suitable accommodation but you would not be able to sell you existing home without obtaining deputyship, which is a long winded and expensive process.

  • Pennylane
    Pennylane Posts: 2,707 Forumite
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    I read today that it is taking up to 1,000 days to get POA processed.  Everything these days is hopeless.
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,951 Forumite
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    Pennylane said:
    I read today that it is taking up to 1,000 days to get POA processed.  Everything these days is hopeless.
    Fairly sure that’s not accurate. 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • muttleyb
    1000 days?! We posted ours mid-November and received them back 18 weeks later. Or 126 days, if you prefer to count in days.
    In response to the OP, I would whole-heartedly recommend that you do them regardless of being married and your assets being jointly owned. It gives great peace of mind knowing that you can act for each other. Remember that with the property and financial affairs LPA you can opt to use it before you lose capacity. For example, if one of you is hospitalised or recovering from an accident or illness, the other one can attend to financial matters on that person's behalf. This is a very useful feature, but is often overlooked in discussions about LPAs. In Section 5 'When can your attorneys make decisions?' you choose between 'As soon as my LPA has been registered (and also when I don't have mental capacity' or 'Only when I don't have capacity'.
    The forms on the government website are very easy to fill in; if you do it online (then print them for signing, etc), you can't accidentally miss out any sections, as it won't let you move on to the next section until you have finished the one you are currently working on. 
  • lr1277
    lr1277 Posts: 1,696 Forumite
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    edited 13 May 2023 at 3:00AM
    My parents had both joint accounts and sole accounts with the same institutions. When dad lost capacity, they would deal with mum's requests for the joint accounts but would not do anything with the sole accounts. This is where registering a POA would have been useful so mum could take actions on dad's sole accounts.
    Edited to add: remember ISA's can't be joint ( both cash ISA's and S&S ISA's). The competent partner may need the funds in one such account for whatever expenses. You would definitely need a POA to deal with your partner's ISA(s).
    Also credit cards can't be joint. There is always a primary card holder. You or your partner may be a supplementary card holder on your spouse's card, but that doesn't mean the credit card company will action any requests from the supplementary card holder without the POA. Then you get into an area I am not sure about. If you want S75 protection, any purchases by supplementary card holder or the POA holder on the main card, has to be for the benefit of the account holder. At least that is what I think based on reading these boards.
    **End of edit

    Beware, in addition to the time taken for the OPG to grant the POA, it will take time to register any POA's with institutions. We registered dad's at the start of the lockdown so took 3-4 months if memory serves.

    As I mentioned elsewhere on this forum in the last few days:
    1) Your GP surgery will only speak to the patient and not their spouse. Even if one person in the relationship has lost capacity. This can mean losing mental or physical capacity. If you and your spouse agree, find out from your surgery how you go about anyone at the surgery to be able to talk to one of you about the other. This can mean changes in condition or medication issues. In our case dad signed a letter saying who in his family could speak to the surgery. That worked well for us.
    2) As so many accounts now rely on email. You need to come to some arrangement with your spouse about email access either on your phone or the computer. This could mean writing down passwords. At some point dad had moved to using the Yahoo app so that meant whilst the phone was working, we could access his emails either on the phone or tap a confirmation button on the app so that we could access his email on the desktop.
    2nd edit: As an aside, we had the app installed on both dad's phone and on the tablet. So sometimes we needed to see the email on the desktop and Yahoo would require the confirmation tap. Sometimes that tickbox would appear on the mobile and at other times on the tablet. At first it was confusing why the confirmation box was not appearing on the mobile, so we would have to get Yahoo to send a text message to the mobile. Once I realised the confirmation box could appear either on the mobile or the tablet, it made things easier.
  • roharek
    Ordered our Which? POA’s, brilliant service. However, we can’t find anyone who will countersign for us. All solicitors won’t because they didn’t write it or will look at them at £175 per person but won’t guarantee to sign if they decide they don’t like the wording and will charge additionally if they do sign. No doctor will sign because they say the won’t get involved in this sort of thing. Our money seems to have been totally wasted 😞
  • Marmaduke123
    Do you mean act as certificate provider or witness your signature?  If so, you don't need a solicitor or a doctor to do either of these things. We just used neighbours. 
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,951 Forumite
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    We used neighbours as well. And I’ve signed a neighbour’s for them. 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
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