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What Does Power of Attorney Mean?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document.

It allows you (the donor) to nominate a trusted relative or friend (the attorney) to look after your affairs if you lose capacity or if you no longer wish to make decisions for yourself.

Why should you have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Regardless of health, everyone should consider a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Anyone over the age of 18 can set one up. There are two forms of power of attorney – one for financial decisions and one for health and care decisions. They need to be set up and the agreements registered with the Office of the Public Guardian for which the price has now dropped to £82 per registration for each.

The LPA must be submitted by the person whose finances or health and welfare it covers but the donor must have full capacity and understanding at the time of submission.

Anyone can lose their faculties very quickly. Without an LPA, the only way the family or friends can take charge of finances or healthcare is via the Court of Protection which can be costly and time-consuming.

Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney

This covers matters such as:

  • money, tax and bills – this can include gifts to family/friends or charities if the donor would normally do this
  • bank and building society accounts
  • property and investments – including buying and selling property
  • pensions and benefits

Health and Welfare Power of Attorney

This covers things such as:

  • help with daily routine
  • where the donor lives
  • whether to spend money on improving the donor’s quality of life
  • medical care – including whether medical treatment should be withheld if it is in the donor’s best interests

As a note – the attorney may need to apply to the Court of Protection to make a decision about medical treatment, if medical staff or friends and family disagree about the attorney’s decision regarding treatment.

I run a business, should I have an LPA?

Yes. If you have a business and you become ill or have an accident, it may be difficult for your business to operate financially without you. You may think it would be easy for another person to take over your affairs. However, unless an attorney is appointed the disruption to your business could be disastrous. You should consider who you would trust to pay staff and invoices and manage the business finances on your behalf.

Choosing an Attorney

A donor can appoint more than one attorney

Attorneys appointed to act together are known as joint attorneys. The advantage of this arrangement is that it makes it harder for an attorney to commit fraud or do something against the interests of the donor. The disadvantage is that the whole power of attorney comes to an end if one attorney dies or becomes mentally incapable.

Attorneys appointed to act together and independently are known as joint and several attorneys meaning that the signature or action of one attorney is as valid as if they were the only attorney. It also means that the power of attorney will continue in force if anything happens to one of the attorneys.

Attorney responsibilities

Attorneys, whether it is for a financial or health and welfare LPA, are chosen on trust and must always act in the best interests of the donor.

They can only do the things that they have been authorised to do in the LPA and cannot ask anyone else to carry out any of the duties. Separate up-to-date accounts of the donor’s financial affairs must always be kept to show the attorney’s actions if ever requested.

If you lose capacity without a Lasting Power of Attorney, your assets could be frozen and could prevent your family from paying for any care you require.

For help creating an LPA or any information contact us at 01432 278179, or using our contact form below:

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