We are living in extraordinary times and whilst most people are attempting to carry on as normally as possible, none of us knows what may be round the corner.  Many people bear responsibility for others, typically their own children but others assist adults that, for one reason or another, need support.  Such arrangements would not normally be given a second thought, however, in the current situation the status quo is not so stable. Nobody can tell if or when they may suddenly be unable to fulfil the responsibilities as the pandemic sweeps across the globe.

Few young adults consider what would happen to their family if they could not make their own decisions.  Parents point to their partners believing that the other parent would be in the position of stepping into the role, which may be the case, but not in every case.

Fernanda Stefani, an associate, pointed out "there are many aspects of daily life that are taken for granted. A simple thing such as adding an additional driver to an individual's car insurance needs the permission of the principal person insured. If a mother needs the use of the family car if her husband is suddenly hospitalised this can be an additional problem to deal with." She further commented "the greater a person's responsibilities the greater the problems that arise if they unexpectedly fall seriously ill."

There is an extremely suitable solution to enable another person to assume the responsibilities and make vital decisions should a key person be unable to do so.  A Power of Attorney enables responsibility to be placed into another person's hands, either temporarily or on a permanent basis, depending on the situation. 

There are two types of powers of attorney currently available, Ordinary Power of Attorney and Lasting Power of Attorney, there is also Enduring Power of Attorney which was superseded in 2007 but those that were drafted prior to 2007 that still apply.  In the current situation an Ordinary Power of Attorney would be ideally suited to provide security for dependents and peace of mind to the person with primary responsibility.  The donor, (the person seeking to provide another person with authority over their affairs), can commission an Ordinary Power of Attorney for only one person, their chosen attorney, and it can be limited to one particular transaction and it can also be limited by time period.  If you think that you would like more than one person to have such authority over your affairs and estate, separate Powers of Attorney must be drafted for each attorney.  The Powers of Attorney Act 1971 provides the wording and an ordinary Power of Attorney does not require registration. It continues indefinitely unless it is restricted to a particular period of time. Should either the donor or the attorney die, or should the attorney lose capacity or become bankrupt the Power of Attorney terminates.

An Ordinary Power of Attorney has a number of applications. If you plan to buy real estate abroad, a holiday home or a retirement investment, by drafting an Ordinary Power of Attorney your lawyer can act on your behalf with absolute authority to protect your interests during the course of the transaction. If you have an overseas property portfolio which you add to you, depending on whether you acquire property in just one country or several you will only require an Ordinary Power of Attorney for each professional that you choose to assist you.

If you travel widely and also have business interests and other responsibilities in the UK, an Ordinary Power of Attorney will provide the same protection in the UK.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.