It is not uncommon for a partner to think they automatically have power of attorney over their spouses.
Legally, do partners have an automatic power of attorney over their spouses?
To understand this question, the article will briefly describe the meaning of the power of attorney.
Additionally, the article will explain why spouses do not automatically have power of attorney.
Do Spouses Automatically Have Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legally signed document that allows someone to have the authority to act on behalf of another person.
Many people assume that when they get married, their spouses automatically have the power to make decisions on their behalf in case of incapacity or emergency.
However, this is not the case. Therefore, a spouse needs to consent and give their partner power of attorney.
This is because by having a power of attorney, one can choose who they trust to act on your behalf and what they can do for you. And this is a difficult position for one to automatically have and acquire by a deed of marriage.
Therefore, spouses do not automatically have power of attorney over each other’s finances or health decisions.
Why Do Spouses Need Power of Attorney?
Spouses need power of attorney because marriage does not automatically grant them the legal authority to act on each other’s behalf.
However, it is recommended that spouses acquire power of attorney that will enable them to act on behalf of the other partner.
The good thing is that there are various types of powers of attorney.
To get proper counsel, one should consider looking for a family law attorney as they will provide the necessary legal advice.
For spouses, in your power of attorney, you can specify any restrictions or conditions. For example, you can limit their power to certain assets or situations, or require them to consult with other people before making decisions.
Without a power of attorney in place, the only way for someone to act on behalf of an incapacitated person is to apply to the court for a deputyship order. This is a lengthy and costly process that involves submitting evidence, paying fees, and attending hearings.
The court will then appoint a deputy (who may not be the spouse) to manage the person’s affairs under its supervision. The deputy will have to report regularly to the court and follow its rules and guidance.
Therefore, it is much better to have a power of attorney in place before any incapacity occurs. This way, you can avoid the hassle and expense of going to court and ensure that your spouse can act on your behalf according to your wishes.
How to Get Power of Attorney?
Getting power of attorney is not difficult, but it requires some planning and preparation. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Choose your attorney(s)
The first step involves appointing one or more attorneys to act on your behalf.
One can also appoint replacement attorneys in case your original ones are unable or unwilling to act.
It is important to know that an attorney should be someone who is trustworthy, reliable, and capable of handling your affairs.
Therefore, for spouses, appointing your partner would be ideal. For replacement attorneys, one should consider relatives, friends, or professionals.
Fill in the forms
The second step involves filing the relevant forms for the type of power of attorney you want.
These forms are available on the relevant government websites. One would need to fill in their personal details, their attorney(s)’ details, any restrictions or conditions on their authority, and how they should act together if you appoint more than one.
Sign the forms
The forms should be signed in front of a notary and a witness who is over 18 years old and not one of your attorneys or their relatives. Your witness will also need to sign the forms.
Get a certificate provider
A certificate provider is someone who can certify that one understands what you are doing and that they are not under any pressure or influence to make a power of attorney.
The requirement of Certificate providers is either someone who has known you for at least two years (such as a friend or a neighbor) or someone who has relevant professional skills (such as a doctor or a solicitor).
It is important that one gives notice about making a power of attorney.
A notice informs people about your attorneys.
The notice also informs people of your intention and gives them the opportunity to raise any concerns or objections.
Register the forms
This is the final step when acquiring a power of attorney. One needs to register the power of attorney with the relevant office.
A Power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to handle your financial and legal affairs your health and welfare decisions or both
Spouses do not automatically have power of attorney over each other’s affairs.
However, it is necessary for spouses to give their partners the power of attorney.
Failing to give your partner a power of attorney can result in a scenario where one spouse becomes incapacitated due to an accident, illness, or dementia, and the other spouse may not be able to access their bank accounts, pay their bills, sell their property, or make medical decisions for them. This instance can cause serious problems and delays, especially if there are no other relatives or friends who can help.
Therefore, it is important to have a power of attorney if you want your spouse to be able to act on your behalf in case of incapacity or emergency.
By having a power of attorney, you can ensure that your spouse can act on your behalf according to your wishes and avoid the hassle and expense of going to court.