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What is a Power of Attorney?

wills department

It is commonly thought that we will be able to make decisions for an adult family member who no longer has the capacity to look after their own affairs. This is not the case.  Your spouse, partner, children or other loved ones are powerless to make any decisions on your behalf unless you have appointed them in terms of a power of attorney. Many people have heard of power of attorney but are under the impression that they can leave it until they need it, but by then it's too late! You can only appoint a person to act as your attorney if you have the capacity to make your own decisions.   If you no longer have such capacity, whether as a result of a medical condition or an accident, the decision about who looks after your affairs is taken out of your hands and the Court decides what is best for you, after a lengthy process.  In some cases decisions regarding you may even be taken out of the hands of your family and responsibility for looking after the welfare of a loved one is taken over by the Chief Social Worker of the local authority.

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