Six in 10 over-75s yet to arrange power of attorney, Just Group finds

Nearly six in 10 (59%) over-75s are yet to arrange a power of attorney, equivalent to 3.4 million people, Just Group has found.

The research has been conducted in line with the retirement specialist’s countdown to retirement series.

A power of attorney is a legal document that enables a person, the attorney, to make decisions on behalf of another individual – the donor – if they lose the mental capacity to understand or make choices for themselves.

Powers of attorney must be arranged when the donor still has the mental ability to make financial or medical decisions for themselves. In England, there are two separate power of attorney documents, one for health and welfare, the other for property and financial affairs. There are plans to modernise the system by allowing online registration.

In the event of a person losing capacity without having a lasting power of attorney in place, family members must apply for deputyship through the court of protection. Deputyship has a more limited remit than a power of attorney, carries an annual renewal fee of £2,500 and can cause financial difficulties in the time it takes for the court to appoint a deputy.

The survey also found that over a third (35%) stated they had not established one as they didn’t feel they were yet at the appropriate stage of life.

The second most common reason for not arranging a power of attorney was fear of giving up control, either because they didn’t want to relinquish control of their finances (22%) or because they did not trust anybody else with their money (6%).

Group communications director at Just Group, Stephen Lowe, said: “It is worrying that millions of people are entering later life without a power of attorney in place.

“None of us like to think about our vulnerabilities or impending mental and physical decline but handling the affairs of a relative without a power of attorney in place can be distressing and costly.

“It is concerning that we found a significant proportion of over-75s stating either they did not intend to consider it or had no idea of its importance. We would strongly urge people to look at setting up a power of attorney at the same time as they organise or update their wills in order to provide peace of mind in later life for themselves and their family. It's concerning that a significant proportion of over-75s said they did not intend to consider establishing one or had no idea of its importance.”

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