4 things you need to know about the power of attorney

Research conducted by Scottish Widows reveals that despite being aware of the concept of power of attorney (POA), one-third of individuals lack a proper understanding of how it functions.

A power of attorney grants another person the legal authority to make financial and healthcare decisions on behalf of an individual who becomes incapacitated mentally.

Failing to establish this vital document before the onset of a serious illness can lead to significant consequences, as it can only be registered while the individual still possesses the mental capacity to do so.

1. More than 80% of over-55s don’t have a POA

A recent survey conducted by Lloyds Bank revealed that 80% of adults aged 55 and above do not have a power of attorney (POA) in place. The survey, which involved 2,063 participants, found that 20% of respondents were uncertain about the appropriate timing to establish a POA for themselves or someone else.

It is crucial to note that anyone who is 18 years or older can create a power of attorney. It is generally advisable to set up a POA sooner rather than later, as unforeseen circumstances can arise at any time.

2. You still need a POA in place if you’re married

Many individuals who are married or in a civil partnership may assume that their spouse automatically has the authority to manage their financial matters if they become incapacitated. However, this is not the case.

According to a survey conducted by Scottish Widows, only 40% of married couples have a power of attorney (POA) in place. The survey, which involved 2,000 adults, also revealed that one in four couples have no intention of establishing a POA.

Scottish Widows emphasized that couples often overlook the importance of setting up a power of attorney as part of their financial planning for the future. Having discussions about finances and preparing for the future can be challenging, and financial advisers play a crucial role in facilitating these conversations.

3. It may take five months to register

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), responsible for handling power of attorney (POA) applications, has stated that individuals should expect a registration process of up to 20 weeks. Prior to the pandemic, the average time frame was approximately 10 weeks. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that your POA document is error-free, as mistakes can further delay the process.

According to the OPG, common errors include mixing up pages from different forms, incorrect sequencing of signatures on the application form, and inconsistencies in instructions and appointment types.

To enhance the protection of vulnerable individuals from abuse or fraud, the government announced reforms to the POA system last year. These reforms include the introduction of new identification checks. Additionally, the government plans to allow online applications for lasting power of attorney (LPA) for the first time, which could significantly reduce the registration time to as little as two weeks.

4. You can not set up POA once you lose capacity

When an individual has already lost mental capacity, it is not possible to establish a power of attorney (POA) for them. In such cases, family members or loved ones must apply to the Court of Protection to become their deputies. This process is costlier and more time-consuming compared to setting up a lasting power of attorney (LPA).


In conclusion, having a power of attorney (POA) is essential for ensuring that your financial and healthcare decisions are taken care of if you become incapacitated. However, many individuals, including married couples, do not have a POA in place. It is important to address this gap in financial planning and have open conversations about the future. Reforms are being implemented to streamline the POA registration process. Taking the necessary steps to establish a POA provides peace of mind and safeguards against potential complications down the road.

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