Power Of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document by which you give another person (or persons) the power to make decisions regarding either your Property and Financial Affairs, or your Health and Welfare if you become unable to do so for yourself.
A Power of Attorney can be made at any time, provided you have sufficient Mental Capacity to do so. The benefits of making a Power of Attorney can be far-reaching since they can provide someone that you trust with the authority to make decisions if you become incapacitated in the future. This means that your views can still be communicated and your bank accounts can continue to be accessed, should the worst happen.
Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney is the most protective environment for you to allow your family members access to help with your affairs. NEVER give your bank card and PIN number out and try to steer away from adding third parties to your accounts. All of these steps can be, and often are, subject to abuse.
It is important to note that a Power of Attorney is not just a document to be considered at retirement or in later life. Incapacity can occur as a result of an accident, injury, illness or stroke to name just a few and so is a sensible option for all to consider when planning their affairs.
There are several types of Power of Attorney:
- Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs).
- Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).
- General or “short form” Power of Attorney.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
EPAs were the original Powers of Attorney. Although new EPAs can no longer be made, any existing and validly completed EPAs can still continue and these are to be registered when the maker (known as the Donor) begins to lose capacity.
EPAs were created to manage decisions regarding property and finances only and so, prior to Lasting Powers of Attorney in 2007, there was no form for Health and Welfare decisions.
Lasting Power of Attorney
The current form is known as a Lasting Power of Attorney and these were brought into existence in October 2007, to replace the old EPA forms.
Lasting Power of Attorney comes in two forms: one for Property and Financial decisions and one for Health and Welfare decisions. The forms are independent of each other and so you can make one or both documents.
Decisions under a Lasting Power of Attorney
In brief, the following are some examples of the decisions which can be made under a Lasting Power of Attorney:
- For Property and Finance: Sell/rent property, pay bills, access accounts, make and sell investments.
- For Health and Welfare: Where you live/who visits you/what care you receive/medical treatment.
General “Short form” Power of Attorney
A general Power of Attorney is also known as a short form Power of Attorney. It is a very brief document which authorises an individual to act for you in relation to a particular transaction or matter. This is a document which can be very useful in business terms if you are away from the country on a trip for some time. It is, however, a document which may or may not be accepted by the banks and it is one which will expire after 12 months or if you were to lose capacity.
Choosing an Attorney
It is important to consider who would be the appropriate person to act as an Attorney for you, should you lose capacity in the future. This is because the powers they have under the document are far-reaching and so it is important to choose someone who can handle the responsibility and whom you trust to do so.
On a Lasting Power of Attorney, you can choose as many Attorneys as you wish to be able to act for you. You can also choose how they are to act together and any restrictions or guidance to place on the use of the document. Contrary to the belief of some that you lose control by making these documents, you actually retain control over your affairs by planning well in advance who, when and how these documents are used.
Consideration should be given as to whether your chosen Attorneys are capable of acting together and whether they have the time to dedicate to the role (see Acting as an Attorney or Deputy). For some, it is more appropriate to consider appointing an independent person or professional, such as a Solicitor, to avoid conflict within the family and to ensure that someone with appropriate expertise is acting for you. For more information on appointing a member of Tollers as a professional Attorney, read onto our Professional Attorneyship and Deputyship page.
Talk to Tollers
For more information or to arrange an appointment to discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney, contact a member of our Trusts and Estates Team by completing the form below.