Lasting Powers of Attorney

In this article we discuss the factors you should consider when you come to select your Attorneys, but first a short recap about LPA's themselves.

Ensuring you choose the right people to be your Attorneys

Previously we've talked about why it is important to have Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) in place. They give you the peace of mind that should anything happen to you where you lose mental capacity and can no longer make decisions for yourself, that someone you know and trust will have the authority to make these decisions for you.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why would I need one?

We have looked at this in more detail in a previous blog, in brief however an LPA means that if you were to become mentally incapacitated, through a head injury or dementia for example, you would have a legally authorised person (the Attorney) in place who can make decisions on your behalf regarding firstly, your Health & Welfare and secondly your Property & Finance.

You need to register separate Health & Welfare and Property & Finance LPA's with the Office of the Public Guardian, though your Attorneys can be the same people or person for both.

Who to choose to be your Attorney

When choosing attorneys to act on your behalf there are a number of important factors to consider and it is important to choose individuals who you trust and who have your best interests at heart.

We always recommend that you have two Attorneys registered for both LPA's so if something untoward happens to one you have a backup.

Below we have outlined the primary details you need to consider to help make your decision:

1. Trust and reliability: You should choose individuals who you trust to act in your best interests and who are reliable and responsible.

For example, under a Property & Finance LPA they will be able to access your bank account so you need to have complete confidence they will only use your money for your benefit.

2. Legal and financial knowledge: Your attorneys should have a good understanding of the legal and financial issues involved in managing your affairs. This is especially important if you are giving them the power to make decisions about your money and property.

For example, they may need to manage your investments and pensions so you need to be reassured that they will do this in the most beneficial way or will call in the expertise to do so.

3. Communication skills: Your attorneys should be able to communicate effectively with you, other professionals involved in your care, and each other.

For example, they should be able to clearly communicate with care providers and medical professionals about your needs.

4. Availability: You should choose attorneys who are able and willing to act on your behalf when needed.

Make no mistake that should the time come where your Attorney has to act on your behalf, it can be time consuming, for example when organising live in or residential care, so your Attorneys will need to be able to devote substantial periods of time to your needs.

5. Compatibility: If you are appointing more than one Attorney (which we recommend), you should consider whether they are likely to work well together and be able to make decisions together.

It goes without saying that the best decisions for your benefit will be made by people who can intelligently debate your needs and make good decisions without becoming fractious.

6. Personal preferences: You may also have personal preferences, such as wanting to appoint family members or close friends as your Attorneys.

Many people appoint family members as Attorneys, we discuss this in more depth below.

It is also important to consider whether your chosen Attorneys are eligible under the LPA rules. For example, they must be over 18 years old, not bankrupt and not subject to a court order that prevents them from acting as an Attorney.

Family Members as Attorneys

Many people quite understandably choose their spouse or partner to be one of their Attorneys, but you should take into account their age and health when considering their suitability. If they predecease you, you would be legally left with no one to make decisions for you if you were to become mentally incapacitated.

This is one of the reasons why many people do not choose their partner. If they do they normally have a second nominated Attorney, often this will be another family member typically an adult child.

Remember you should make the same considerations about family members regarding trustworthiness and capability as you would for anyone else you wish to appoint.

Make an informed decision

Ultimately, it is important to take the time to carefully consider your options and choose Attorneys who you trust and who are best suited to act on your behalf. You must of course discuss it with the people you are considering and ensure they understand what their responsibilities will be.

Once you have decided on your Attorney's and they have agreed, both you and they will need to complete some paperwork and register with the Office of the Public Guardian. This is a process that we have helped to complete for many clients.

Savigny can also provide useful advice about who you should consider to be your Attorneys in order that you can make an informed decision.

Ensure you receive a kind, understanding service

At Savigny we believe that everyone should be treated with respect and kindness receiving a caring personal service. We take the time to understand your needs and provide the professional experience, knowledge and skills to help you make the decisions that are right for you.

We can help in all matters relating to applying for Lasting Powers of Attorney, including advice about who to choose to be your Attorneys. Please contact us using the details below if you have any questions about LPA's or wish to apply and don't know where to start.

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