The rising average life expectancy in the UK means that more people are appointing someone to take care of their property, health and finances when they are no longer able to do so on their own.
”209,600 people will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.” – Alzheimer’s Society
Power Of Attorney
A power of attorney permits someone to appoint another person – an “attorney” to act on your behalf. Attorneys are appointed under either a document called an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) or since 1 October 2007, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). You (the donor) need to choose people for your LPA. Different types of power of attorney are available in England and Wales, in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland.
Most people select their spouse, a relative, or a close friend to be their power of attorney but you can name anyone you want. The role of an attorney involves a great deal of power and responsibility. Therefore, it’s important that you choose someone you trust. Someone who will act in your best interest.
Note: The powers you give to your attorney will depend upon the kind of LPA granted.
There are two different kinds:
- Property and finance
- Health and welfare
Read More: ‘Power Of Attorney – How To Get Started’
‘Jointly’ or ‘Jointly and Severally’
If you want to you can have more than one attorney but you will need to decide whether these attorneys must act ‘jointly’ or ‘jointly and severally’.
- ‘jointly’ – This means all the attorneys must agree. Great care should be taken to ensure that your attorneys are willing to act together.
- ‘jointly and severally’ – This means your attorney can make decisions together or independently.
- Jointly for some decisions, jointly and severally for other decisions – You can specify important decision to them such as the sale of the family home (on which agreement of all attorneys is required).
What happens if Joint Attorneys Can’t Or Won’t Work Together?
If your attorneys can’t all agree on a decision can’t be made. Moreover, if attorneys cannot work together the LPA may be cancelled by the court.
Disputing A Power Of Attorney
Disputes tend to happen when there is a disagreement on how an attorney is seen to be dealing with the donor’s affairs. Every situation is different, and no two disputes are the same but some of the most common themes in disputes are:
- Spending by the attorney
- Nursing care
- The donor’s Will
- Opening, closing and using bank and building society accounts
If the attorney is acting improperly, family members can file a petition in court. You can also contact the Office of the Public Guardian if you have any concerns.
Settling An Attorney Dispute
It’s often the case that disputes can be resolved after a meeting between the two parties. Therefore, the Court of Protection encourages people involved in an attorney dispute to try alternative dispute resolution or seek specialist legal advice. Many lawyers are qualified mediators who can help to settle power of attorney disputes as well.
What If An Attorney Hasn’t Been Appointed?
If you didn’t appoint an attorney before lost capacity, the Court of Protection will appoint a deputy to look after your affairs.
Note: You can revoke a power of attorney at any time for any reason as long as you are competent.
It’s hard to see ahead but it’s important to have well-drafted power of attorney in place. With proper planning, you can save your family a lot of unnecessary hassle.
Make difficult decisions further down the line easier. Start planning today.
This online service can help you to create LPA for England and Wales: https://www.lastingpowerofattorney.service.gov.uk/home
You may want to read some of our other relevant guides, such as:
- Does Your Family Know Who Handles Your Legal Matters?
- Things You Can Do Now To Leave Your Online Affairs In Order
- Planning For Advanced Care Improves Survival
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