Power of Attorney – Peace of mind or Power Struggle?
Should you give your children Power of Attorney?
Lasting Powers of Attorney are recognised as an essential component of any later life planning arrangements but a power of attorney can be the focus of family power struggles.
There is nothing new in sibling rivalry and there will always be examples of children accusing each other of selfish motives in relation to the care of an elderly parent. When family wealth is thought to be at stake it can put a serious strain on even the most well balanced family.
So is there anything a parent should do when considering making a Lasting Power of Attorney to reduce the risk of a future family skirmish?
Firstly, if you are the one granting the power of attorney it is really important to understand that it is about you and not about them. The purpose behind giving a power of attorney is to protect you and enable decisions to be made that are in your best interests.
Before you appoint your attorneys it is also important to have a clear understanding of what their role is going to be and how much authority they are going to have. If you don’t want your children to have power of attorney in all circumstances over everything – don’t give it to them. And certainly don’t give in to pressure, even if they say it will make things more difficult for them to help you if you don’t.
If you think you have to appoint all your children to be attorneys to avoid in-fighting then perhaps think twice before appointing any of them. You will need impartial, well-formed judgments to be made by your attorneys. If they are emotionally locked into an “it isn’t fair” mentality the children might not be capable of making impartial decisions.
Finally, take professional advice. You might think it is easier and cheaper just to use the online form on the government website but if you make the wrong set of choices about your attorneys, it will have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for you and your family. Receiving independent advice from experienced and qualified professionals will help you to lay down appropriate ground rules and steer clear of potential pitfalls.