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Nobody knows what the future holds and situations can arise, such as failing health or an unexpected accident where you are no longer able to take care of your own affairs.
1. What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that enables you to appoint one or more persons of your choice to handle your financial affairs and property, either now or in the future. You can also set up a separate LPA which appoints someone to deal with your welfare and personal affairs (i.e. where you live, the care you receive) and even to make decisions about the medical treatment that you receive should you lose your mental capacity.
LPAs for financial affairs and property replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) as from 1st October 2007. However an EPA set up prior to this date will still be valid provided it was properly executed.
2. Why do I need one?
Unless you have prepared an LPA and formally nominated someone to manage your affairs, organisations will not allow an individual other than you to deal with them. Therefore, without an LPA in place, your assets can go into limbo as no one would be authorised to access them and this can, of course, create difficulties where there are bills to be paid. It is also possible to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney for your business affairs (whether that be a Limited Company, Partnership or Sole trade).
Similarly, if you lose your mental capacity, you may wish to nominate somebody to make decisions in relation to your welfare and/or health care to ensure your needs are properly looked after.
3. Who can act as my Attorney?
Anyone who is over 18 years old can be nominated. It needs to be someone you trust implicitly and who will put your needs first. It is quite normal to appoint a trustworthy and responsible member of your family, who lives close enough to you to be able to give the necessary assistance. In certain circumstances it can be helpful to appoint solicitors to act as your Attorney.
4. Can I have more than one Attorney?
Yes, you can appoint more than one Attorney. If you appoint more than one person to act as your Attorney they can be appointed to act either ‘jointly’ or ‘jointly and severally’. If they are appointed to act ‘jointly’, then this will mean that they all need to act unanimously at all times (for example all signing cheques). If they are appointed to act ‘jointly and severally’ then any of them can act separately or together. Can I restrict the powers that I give to my Attorneys? Yes. If you wish, you can restrict their powers to specific acts such as managing your investments, selling your house or simply paying routine domestic bills. Alternatively, if you choose to give them wider powers, the Attorney(s) can do anything which you would have been able to do yourself.
5. Registration at Court?
Your appointed Attorney(s) cannot act upon your behalf until the LPA has been registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (whether or not you are mentally capable). Once registered, your Attorneys are permitted to act upon your behalf should this be desirable or indeed necessary.
6. What if I don’t make an LPA?
Your family would have to apply to the Court of Protection (which oversees the affairs of people who are not mentally capable of doing so themselves) for the appointment of a Deputy to look after your affairs. This is an inconvenient, long and costly business compared with the ease of thinking ahead and preparing an LPA now.
If you would like further information on Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact James Rousell at Wall James Chappell on 01384 371622 or email email@example.com