With the below linked article appearing in the news this week Clowes & Co. thought it would be relevant to provide you with the following advice:
Almost anyone over the age of 18, including your spouse, can be appointed as an attorney (though someone who is bankrupt cannot act as an attorney under a property and financial affairs LPA).
Although many people appoint their spouse or an adult child, this may not be the best choice. Key factors in choosing the right attorney include:
- Although your attorney will be legally bound to act in your best interests, problems are not unknown. (Restricting the attorney’s powers under the LPA can also be an important protection for you – see below.)
- For example, the attorney might have to make complicated judgements on what kind of care would be best for you, or the best way to manage your finances.
- Being an attorney can involve making difficult and time-consuming decisions. It is also unpaid (though reasonable expenses can be reclaimed) unless the attorney is a professional and the LPA allows for payment to be made.
- An older individual is less likely to be able to act as your attorney in the future (for example, if the individual dies or becomes infirm).
An LPA can appoint more than one attorney. If so, the LPA can require the attorneys to act jointly (ie agreeing decisions unanimously), jointly and severally (ie any one of the attorneys can make a decision), or a combination (for example, requiring specified major decisions to be agreed unanimously).
Requiring several attorneys to act together helps protect you against the risk that a single attorney will make a bad decision, but can also make it more difficult for your attorneys to make any decisions at all – even when they are in your best interests.
You can also have more than one LPA, with either the same or different attorneys under each LPA. For example, you could have one attorney who makes financial decisions (under a property and financial affairs LPA) and another responsible for healthcare issues (under a health and welfare LPA).
Keep in mind that your attorneys may need to cooperate on some decisions – for example, moving into residential care (a welfare decision) also involves paying for the care (a financial decision).
If you choose to have an LPA with a single attorney, or attorneys who must act together, the LPA could cease to be effective if one attorney can no longer act (eg if an attorney dies).
This can also happen if your spouse is an attorney and you get divorced, as he or she will automatically cease being an attorney (unless the LPA specifies otherwise). However, the LPA can name one (or more) replacement attorneys to cover these possibilities.
Contact us for more information on 01782 444204 or firstname.lastname@example.org