There are some misconceptions about needing and having a power of attorney. Here is one and it is made starker given the current discussion about safety and head knocks in rugby following the coverage of the report on Wales international, George North. Dr Barry O’Driscoll (a former World Rugby medical adviser) said to BBC Radio Wales that “As an amateur you would say there is no way you must play again… As a professional player, and some people have very dangerous professions, it’s not quite so simple.”
“Power of attorney- I’m young, fit and healthy … it’s only for older people!”
It is easy to think that the need for a power of attorney is limited to particular groups such as older people and those diagnosed with certain diseases.
It is the lack of your decision making capacity that matters and that can happen to anyone, at any age and even without warning. A power of attorney is about you authorising someone (or people) you trust to take decisions for you, if you cannot.
Illness or accident (including through work, sport or leisure activities) can lead to diminished capacity meaning you need someone to have authority to take many decisions on your behalf. And that decision making might be needed promptly or even immediately. Certainly more promptly than a potentially lengthy (months) wait for a court (not you) to select a “guardian” to take these decisions on your behalf.
Powers of attorney are really essential to have in place and, if required to be used, can be central to protecting valuable and hard-earned family wealth as well as making critical health and well-being decisions.
It might be that the young need decisions taken on their behalf when least expected… potentially owing to the risks associated with their occupation or sport… and sometimes these mix as Dr O’Driscoll highlights. The interaction of sport, head injuries and diminished capacity has also attracted attention via the BBC’s John Beattie and Will Smith’s movie, Concussion.