29 April 2019

Millions risk financial welfare due to lack of understanding around Power of Attorney

5 min read

Meera Khanna, Consumer PR Manager
Meera Khanna

Corporate PR Manager - Protection


New research from mutual insurer Royal London has shown that half of adults are not aware of Power of Attorney, which is a vital protection to help families when loved ones can no longer cope. The study reveals:

  • Half of the adult population are not aware of Power of Attorney – of those who  are aware of it, only one in three (30%) think they actually really  fully understand what it does
  • There are two types of Power of Attorney – but most people have only heard of a financial Power of Attorney (76%);
  • Of those who haven’t discussed setting up a Power of Attorney, 18% of men said this was because they didn’t think they would need it, compared with just 8% of women.

Power of Attorneys allow people to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf, should a time come when they lack the mental capacity to do so themselves. If the person has already lost mental capacity then the Court of Protection can appoint a deputy to make decisions on that person’s behalf.

Among adults who know of Power of Attorney, around three quarters (76%) are aware of a financial Power of Attorney. Yet only around half (48%) are aware of a welfare Power of Attorney, which covers things like end of life health care decisions. 

There is a clear gender divide amongst those who understand Power of Attorney with  a quarter (23%) of women saying they have discussed setting one up compared to just one in six men (17%). Men (18%) who haven’t discussed setting one up were also more likely than women (8%) to say that they did not think they would ever need to set one up.

The study also found there was a lack of discussion on the subject, with almost half (48%) of adults not thinking they are at an age when they need to think about it, despite three in 10 (34%) being over 55. One in five (19%) said the reason for not discussing it was because they did not want to think about being unable to manage their own affairs.

Mona Patel, consumer spokesperson for Royal London, said:

“It may be uncomfortable to think about not having the mental capacity to make decisions, but it is important to plan in case this happens. While official figures show nearly 800,000 registrations were submitted last year in England and Wales, it’s concerning that only a third of people who have heard of a Power of Attorney fully understood how it works.  Appointing a family member or trusted friend to make financial or welfare decisions on your behalf stops the responsibility falling to the state and loved ones then having to apply to the Court of Protection, which can be emotionally difficult, time consuming and expensive.” 

Royal London’s Power of Attorney guide explains how to set one up and goes through the key things people need to think about before deciding to act as an attorney.

Notes to Editors

  1. Royal London has help and information on Power of Attorney which can be found on our website https://www.royallondon.com/media/good-with-your-money-guides/power-of-attorney-explained/
  2. YouGov, on behalf of Royal London, surveyed 2,049 adults between 1st – 4th March 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  3. Power of Attorney registration figures are from the Office of the Public Guardian’s annual report (pg 6) found here.

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life insurance, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £139 billion, 8.6 million policies in force and 4,348 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2020.

For further information please contact:

Meera Khanna, Corporate PR Manager - Protection