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Lasting power of attorney registrations hit high: why it’s worth considering

Written by: Stuart Hulme
The start of the year is a popular time to reassess our financial needs and as lasting power of attorney registrations hit a high in January 2017, here’s why they’re worth considering.

The start of the year can be a good time to reflect and take stock, not only of our own affairs, but of those of our nearest and dearest, recognising that in the future either we, or our loved ones, may need a helping hand with making financial decisions. Indeed according to government figures, lasting power of attorney registrations tend to rise at the start of the year, hitting a new high in January 2017.

There are many reasons why you might need assistance, most commonly if you are moving abroad and require a nominated person in the UK to undertake your banking and associated decisions; suffer from ill health or become incapacitated. You may need help on a temporary basis, for example if you are in hospital, or you may need to make more long-term plans.

According to charity Citizen’s Advice, there are a number of options available when arranging for someone else to help manage your financial affairs, depending on your circumstances. If you do need to make arrangements on a more permanent basis, one option could be to register a power of attorney, a legal document which lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.

There are number of different types of power of attorney, depending where you live in the UK and the type of access you wish to grant. As such the costs will also vary. A person must have mental capacity when they choose to make a power of attorney. According to the government, options in England and Wales include setting up an ordinary power of attorney (which can only be used while you have mental capacity) and a lasting power of attorney (which can start at any time, but can also be used after you have lost mental capacity).

Why is a lasting power of attorney worth considering?

It’s important to recognise that the population of the UK is ageing and with charity Alzheimer’s Society stating that there are more than 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. With these numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025 and two million by 2051, the fact we may need help in the future is worth bearing in mind.

Over the years the demand for power of attorneys has increased. According to the Office of the Public Guardian there were 547,021 applications to register lasting power of attorney and enduring power of attorney documents in England and Wales in 2015/16, a 34% increase on the previous year.

As with anything of this nature, it needs to be fully considered as will not be the appropriate option in all cases. Fortunately there is a lot of information out there to help and it’s vital that people do plenty of research and seek professional advice where necessary.

As a bank we try our best to be as flexible and sympathetic as possible when dealing with requests to open and manage accounts on a third-party basis. After all we wouldn’t want to make what could be a challenging time, any harder.

Stuart Hulme is director of savings at Hampshire Trust Bank

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