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Do you need a Power of Attorney?

The idea of someone else being able to make decisions for you, like sign your cheques, cancel your insurances, even sell your home, can sound like a nightmare. But if something happens to you and you are unable to look after your own affairs, having someone else to help can be a blessing.

Many people think their partner will be able to step in automatically should something happen, but this is not the case. Even if you've been married 50 years, your spouse will not be able to deal with any accounts, policies or possessions if they are in your own name.

What if something happened to you today? Imagine you have a stroke and are now laying in a hospital bed. Hopefully you have insurance in place or savings in your bank account. But if these are in your own name, your family would need a Power of Attorney to access them.

Insurance companies require policy owners to sign the claim forms – which applies for jointly-owned policies as well, that is, both policy owners need to sign. If you have a Power of Attorney, your family can get the claim paid by signing on your behalf. If you don't have one, and you are unable to sign the claim form yourself, the insurance company will not pay the claim. If that's the case, your family will need to go through Family Court to access your assets.

Given that the main reason you have insurance is to look after your loved ones should something happen to you, you don't want them ending up in Family Court to be able to claim on that insurance policy.

What is a power of attorney?

If you give someone power of attorney, you give them the legal right to act on your behalf in relation to one or more aspects of your life e.g. your finances, property, or healthcare. An enduring power of attorney, continues on even after you lose legal capacity - the ability to understand the nature and consequences of decisions and/or the ability to communicate these decisions. Click here to learn more.

Though this can sound like a grim subject, it is important for us as your financial advisers to tell you that these sorts of things can happen. Our role is more than just looking at your insurance, we want to make sure that we keep our promise to protect and grow your wealth every step of the way.
Image courtesy of worradmu / Freedigitalphotos.net