Article written by Charlotte Mandy, Solicitor, Private Client department
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that lets you choose people you trust to act on your behalf. If anything happens in the future that means you cannot make important decisions, they will be able to act with your best interests at heart.
There are two different types of lasting power of attorney:
- Financial – this covers decisions about your home and how your money is managed.
- Health and wellbeing – this relates to decisions about your health, lifestyle and medical treatments.
For a Power of Attorney to be valid, it must be signed by any attorneys nominated as well as witnesses. The Power of Attorney must also be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.
How do I make a Power of Attorney?
You can prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) yourself by obtaining the relevant forms online and filling out the information. Despite the process of making a Power of Attorney online seeming to be relatively straightforward, there can be many potential pitfalls for those unfamiliar with the process that could result in an application being rejected, or your wishes not being carried out properly. It is also important to consider the fact that a Lasting Power of Attorney is an important legal document. You are appointing someone to manage your affairs in the event you are no longer able to do so yourself and it is therefore very important that you ensure the document is correctly drafted and accurately reflects your wishes.
Why use a Solicitor to set up a Power of Attorney?
When you use a Solicitor to set up your Power of Attorney, you can be rest assured that it will be set up correctly and tailored to meet your needs and circumstances. Your solicitor will not only draft the Power of Attorney but can also provide you with advice on instructions to include to ensure your attorneys are correctly authorised to do their job.
We can help you decide who you should appoint as your attorney, ensure they are willing and able to act, and understand their duties and obligations as an attorney.
We can also help you to set out clearly how your Power of Attorney should operate and factors you should consider such as can attorneys make decisions alone, or must they make decisions jointly with others? How should the Power of Attorney operate if assets are owned jointly or held abroad? Do you need a separate power of attorney to cover your business interests? These are just some of the questions that may arise during discussions with a solicitor that are often overlooked when people attempt to set up a Power of Attorney via an online service.
You may also wish to set out your wishes for how your affairs should be managed. A solicitor will help you to clearly express any wishes you have, particularly when it comes to giving your attorneys guidance as to your wishes regarding medical care and life sustaining treatment.
Your solicitor will also explain the effects of a Power of Attorney to you clearly to ensure that you understand, which can prevent the validity of the Power of Attorney from being challenged at a later date. They can also advise you on any additional steps you may wish to take, such as revising your Will or inheritance tax planning.
In most circumstances, your solicitor can act as your certificate provider which is the person who has to sign the document to confirm you have capacity, understand the effect of preparing the document and that no one is unduly influencing you into creating it. Having a solicitor act in this capacity means that the document is more likely to be considered valid in the event that someone challenges the registration.
For more information on Powers of Attorney or to discuss a personal matter in further detail, please email me or contact the Private Client department on 020 8858 6971.