Who Should You Give Power of Attorney to?

With an ageing population and a rise in the number of cases of dementia and other long-term conditions, many people worry about what’ll happen to them as they get older. One area of concern is looking after their finances when they may not be able to do so, and that’s why many people choose to nominate a power of attorney. A lasting power of attorney, or LPA, is a document that allows you to nominate other people to make decisions on your behalf, but is it right for you?

When can I nominate a power of attorney?

Anyone over the age of 18, who currently has the mental capacity to make their own decisions, can get an LPA. An LPA can relate to your health and welfare, can give power over your financial affairs and property, or can be granted for both. Many people get them drawn up when revising their wills, or when they’ve been diagnosed with a condition that could cause them to deteriorate in future, but any adult can get one done now in case they need it in future.

Who should I appoint?

When choosing someone to be your attorney, it’s important that they’re also an adult and have the mental capacity to take on your decisions. They could be a relative, friend, solicitor, or spouse, but should be:

  • Someone you know well
  • Someone you trust to have your best interests at heart
  • Someone who is willing to take on the extra responsibilities that come with being an attorney
  • Someone who takes good care of their own finances etc.

Setting up an LPA is a fairly simple process, you simply need to fill in the forms that are then registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, but it’s choosing the right attorney that can often be the trickiest part.

What can an attorney do?

Once you no longer have mental capacity to take care of your decisions, your LPA is put in place. If your LPA relates to property and financial affairs, your attorney will be able to take care of your money, bills, bank accounts, property, investments, trusts, pensions and more. Attorneys who have been nominated for health and welfare can help make decisions with regards to your medical care, day to day routine, and consenting to or refusing treatment. That’s why it’s so important that you trust them.

Can my attorneys change?

Yes, attorneys can be changed if you change your mind, as long as you still have the mental capacity to make decisions. They can also be removed from the LPA if they lack their own mental capacity, become bankrupt, or die. Otherwise, an LPA is in force until the donor dies.

Plan for your future by getting in touch with Heritage Will Writers on 01603 894500. Whether you’re looking to update your will or get an LPA, Heritage Will Writers work with clients across the South East of England to offer a friendly and professional service.

Setting up Power of Attorney – The Facts.

When considering your legal requirements for later in life, or even unexpected incidents, most people think about their wills and sometimes creating trusts for family members or organisations that they may be responsible for. One thing people tend to overlook is powers of attorneywhen really it should be one of the first things to consider.

What is power of attorney?

It is a legal document that gives someone else, of your choosing, the authority to act for you in case you are in some way absent or incapacitated and unable to act. A legal relationship is created, designating you the principal and your appointed person the agent. The Power of Attorney can be for something specific or can cover a multitude of things.  You decide whether the powers are broad or limited. For example, if you needed to sell your business but cannot attend the closing in person, you can assign someone else to sign in your absence.

When do the powers of attorney come into effect?

If you have signed the legal document in front of two witnesses and have had it notarised by a professionally trained lawyer, then the Power of Attorney can come into immediate effect. You can provide your agent with the document and request that it not be used unless you are in some way unable to act for yourself, but unless you have specified the exact usage of it, they can use the Power of Attorney from the moment they receive it.

In this instance, sometimes it’s important to set up a Power of Attorney that does not come into effect until an event triggers it, such as an accident that leaves you unable to communicate or unconscious. This can be problematic, as the agent will need to present an affidavit to prove that this event has occurred in order to use the Powers of Attorney. Banks and other institutions may be reluctant to recognise the agent in this instance.

Will I lose control over my money if I provide someone else with Power of Attorney?

No, this isn’t the case. You still have your normal rights over your money and any assets but you are giving the agent the ability to access your money. It is assumed that the person you choose is trustworthy and won’t steal from you, so choose carefully.

If the relationship breaks down between you and the agent, or you have any reason to suspect that they are using their powers to steal from you, revoke the powers of attorney immediately. Notify all banks and institutions that you have done this. You can also take them to probatecourt to discover how and where your money is being spent. You may be able to sue the agent or press criminal charges if it can be proven that they have used the money without your consent.

If you would like to know more about setting up a Power of Attorney call Heritage Will Writers on 01603 894 500.