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Protecting yourself with a Lasting Power of Attorney
By Charles Fraser, Senior Solicitor and Head of the Older and Vulnerable Client team.
Clients often want to ensure that in the event that they are no longer able to make their own decisions, someone they have chosen will be able to do so on their behalf.
In order to achieve this, clients will sign a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
LPA’s come in two types: Property & Financial Affairs, and Health & Welfare. Both deal with exactly what they say: The Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows Attorneys to manage someone’s finances, deal with their home etc., whereas the Health & Welfare LPA allows the Attorneys to make decisions about where the person should live, medical treatment, and indeed what social activities they should participate in.
Both types of LPA allow the Donor, the person who is giving the powers to others, to choose who the Attorneys should be, i.e. the people who are able to make decisions for them.
The LPA’s allow one or more original Attorneys, and one or more Replacement Attorneys to be appointed. The Replacement Attorney’s role starts once one or more of the original Attorneys is no longer able to act.
There is an online system which allows clients to prepare their own LPA’s, however anyone using the government forms will not benefit from receiving legal advice specific to their own circumstances. It is very easy for mistakes to be made when using the online system, and it is important that clients receive proper advice regarding the options available to them when appointing Attorneys and Replacement Attorneys.
The increase in investigations by the Office of the Public Guardian into alleged abuses by Attorneys highlights the importance of the correct choice of Attorneys to be appointed, however it is the instructions and guidance that will ensure the matter is dealt with properly.
For example, if there are two or more Attorneys, yet only one is actually dealing with matters on a day-to-day basis, how is the other Attorney to know what is happening? When providing advice to clients, we can ensure that sufficient safeguards are put in place. Where clients want specific named Attorneys to be replaced by specific Replacement Attorneys, this is also possible, however appropriate wording must be used as otherwise the appointment might not work.
These are some of the ways that a professionally prepared Lasting Power of Attorney can help clients.
Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.