Royal London highlights lack of understanding around Power of Attorney

30 Apr 2019 Power of Attorneys allow people to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf, should a time come when they lack the mental capacity to do so themselves. If the person has already lost mental capacity then the Court of Protection can appoint a deputy to make decisions on that person’s behalf.

Among adults who know of Power of Attorney, around three quarters (76%) are aware of a financial Power of Attorney. Yet only around half (48%) are aware of a welfare Power of Attorney, which covers things like end of life health care decisions. 

There is a clear gender divide amongst those who understand Power of Attorney with  a quarter (23%) of women saying they have discussed setting one up compared to just one in six men (17%). Men (18%) who haven’t discussed setting one up were also more likely than women (8%) to say that they did not think they would ever need to set one up.

The study also found there was a lack of discussion on the subject, with almost half (48%) of adults not thinking they are at an age when they need to think about it, despite three in 10 (34%) being over 55. One in five (19%) said the reason for not discussing it was because they did not want to think about being unable to manage their own affairs.

Mona Patel, consumer spokesperson for Royal London, said:

“It may be uncomfortable to think about not having the mental capacity to make decisions, but it is important to plan in case this happens. While official figures show nearly 800,000 registrations were submitted last year in England and Wales, it’s concerning that only a third of people who have heard of a Power of Attorney fully understood how it works.  Appointing a family member or trusted friend to make financial or welfare decisions on your behalf stops the responsibility falling to the state and loved ones then having to apply to the Court of Protection, which can be emotionally difficult, time consuming and expensive.” 

Royal London’s Power of Attorney guide explains how to set one up and goes through the key things people need to think about before deciding to act as an attorney.

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