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One in three ‘do not understand how power of attorney can be used’

One in three (33%) people feel they do not understand how power of attorney can be used, despite having heard of it, a survey has found.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) said they do know how power of attorney is used and a further one in 20 (5%) had not heard of it before being asked.

While some said they did not understand it, around three-quarters (74%) of people believe that power of attorney is important, according to the research, for Scottish Widows.

Less than half (41%) of married couples have power of attorney in place, including 30% of same-sex married couples, the survey of 2,000 people across the UK by Opinium Research found.

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A power of attorney is a legal document that allows a nominated person to make decisions for someone, or act on their behalf, if they are no longer able to, for example if they have an accident or become ill and lack the mental capacity to make decisions.

It can help with managing financial assets such as mortgages, bills and investments. The process may vary, depending on where in the UK someone lives.

Rose St Louis, protection director at Scottish Widows, said: “Free Wills Month (in March) is the perfect time to tackle some life admin, making sure you have the right plans in place to protect your assets and loved ones…

“Couples shouldn’t assume that marriage is a catch-all for protection as it could prove to be an expensive mistake to try and navigate later in life.

“We know that half (49%) of people struggle to talk about long-term finances, and it might be difficult to think about, but breaking that taboo ensures you are protected, today and in the future.

“Speaking to an impartial, professional financial adviser is always an option to help you understand wills and power of attorney and your family’s financial future.”