When my father suffered a stroke more than a decade ago, among the many things my sister and I had to deal with were his finances while he was in hospital. Here’s why I regret not getting power of attorney.
He was in his early fifties at the time, and had never considered that he’d fall so seriously ill – therefore leaving no plans in place for us to take over his money management if he was incapacitated.
Picking up the pieces during his six-month recovery was troubling, to say the least. Without power of attorney (what’s that?) we had to write to all the financial companies he dealt with, alert them to the situation and request that they contact us if any payments had been missed, which we then had to fund ourselves.
Shared joint account and power of attorney
Then, when my father had become well enough to do so (and under a doctor’s supervision and guidance), we had to sign a third-party mandate so we could temporarily operate his bank account.
Fortunately, dad made a fantastic recovery and was able to take back control of his finances, but he said that he didn’t want to ever repeat the experience. So, as a family, we decided that we would open up a joint account – with all three of us as holders, but which my father uses as his main account – alongside making arrangements for us to have joint and several power of attorney. Should he ever get ill again, it would be far simpler for me and my sister to take over.
As our research shows, a joint account can be a more powerful product than simply consolidating you and your partner’s pay into one place – it can help ease the hassles that dealing with money can bring at a time of distress.
Trust and honesty are, of course, vital when getting connected financially. But as we found out, it can sometimes pay to bring your family and your finances closer together.