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Powers of Attorney

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Powers of Attorney

Our view is that everyone should make Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs). An LPA is a legal document which appoints trusted people (attorneys) to look after your affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do this yourself. This may be because you are incapacitated, or simply want your affairs taken care of while you are away.

Your trusted individuals (attorneys) can make important decisions about your health, financial life and other affairs for you, ensuring that your best interests are looked after.

Whilst LPAs are often associated with the more elderly, they are important for us all, regardless of age. Making an LPA earlier in life can ensure your affairs will be dealt with in the event of an unforeseen event such as accident or illness.

Making LPAs provides key reassurance for you and your loves ones.

LPAs can help with decisions such as:

  • How to manage your finances
  • Signing key documentation for you if you are unable to sign
  • What happens to your business, if you’re a business owner
  • Your health and welfare
  • The type of medical care and treatment you receive
  • What happens if you have to move into a care home

Powers of Attorney at legalmatters

Your Questions, Answered

These are a few of the key questions we get asked about Powers of Attorney

Who should I choose as my attorney?

You can choose anyone to act as your attorney but bear in mind the following:

  • Make sure they all get on well together
  • Think about their geographical location – having someone close by can be important
  • Think about the skill sets of your proposed attorneys i.e. do they have the necessary financial skills to run your affairs?
  • Bear in mind what other responsibilities your attorneys have for example their own demanding family and / or work commitments could mean that they are not best placed to help you in the event of a crisis
  • Consider appointing a number of attorneys so that there are options e.g. if one or other is away on holiday or sick and unable to help you
  • Consider the aged or your attorneys i.e. there is little purpose in having all attorneys of a similar age to you
  • Consider appointing replacement attorneys who can ‘step in’ if any or all of your ‘first choice’ attorneys are unable or unwilling to act
  • Ask yourself ‘Do you trust your attorneys implicitly?’ You are potentially handing over control of (a) all of your money and property and (b) critical decisions on significant issues such as life-sustaining treatment. Can you be 100% sure that they will always act in your best interests?
  • Your attorneys must be over 18. However, when considering appointing young persons (who albeit are over 18 but still young) do consider the burden that you could be imposing on that person who perhaps has insufficient life experience to deal with the task in hand
  • Your attorneys must not be bankrupt not be subject to a Debt Relief Order
  • If considering appointing a professional such as a financial adviser then always check if their organisation allows them to be appointed to that role as often they are deemed to be conflicted

How many attorneys do I need?

We recommend that you choose more than one attorney. Do not just choose your spouse or partner because the chances are they will be of a similar age to you. They are also likely to be looking after you if you are ill and if you’re on holiday they are likely to be with you! These are all reasons why others should also be appointed.

If you are appointing more than one attorney, you can decide if they are to make decisions on their own or not. If you state that your attorneys must act together then the LPA will fail if an attorney dies or loses the ability to manage your affairs. It’s better, therefore, to appoint your attorneys in such a way that they can act alone or together, depending on the decision being made.

You can also appoint replacement attorneys who can take over if your first choice attorneys were unable or unwilling to help you.

How do I make an LPA?

We can advise you on the content of your LPAs to ensure that you have the right structure and content. Although there are online solutions, our advice is to have your documents drafted by professionals. We see lots of LPAs that are inadequate and this just means you have to start again, adding costs and delay to the process.

Once the formal documents have been prepared, you have to sign them. Somebody also has to complete a mental capacity certificate on the documents to verify that you are mentally fit and making the documents of your own free will. This person may be a professional (and we can do this for you) or may be someone else who has known you for two years or more.

Your attorneys also need to sign your LPAs to accept the appointment and they can call us if they would like any advice about what is involved.

In order for your LPA to be of practical use to you, it needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This process takes about 8 weeks and we can handle all of this for you.

Our team will work with you to ensure that you have exactly what you need and that you feel comfortable with the arrangements put in place.

What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?

You may have made an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). This is the old form of power of attorney and it was replaced by the Property & Financial Affairs LPA in October 2007.

An EPA is still valid but you can’t make any new ones. If you have an existing EPA, it would worth a discussion as to whether it is as robust as it can be. You may be better advised to cancel your EPA and make a new Property & Financial Affairs LPA. For instance, making an LPA enables you to appoint replacement attorneys and also to include preferences and instructions on the document, which can be very useful to your attorneys.

If you are cancelling an earlier document, you may need to make a Deed of Revocation. This is something we can advise on and subsequently prepare for you.

What happens if I don’t have an LPA?

If you don’t have an LPA and you become mentally or physically unable to make your own decisions or to sign documents then nobody (not even your spouse or partner) has an automatic right to make decisions for you, even if they would act in your best interests.
Without LPAs in place, someone (usually your family) have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your ‘Deputy’. This takes months and costs significantly more that the fixed fee LPA service provided by legalmatters. Deputyship fees can run into thousands and you lose the chance to decide who will make decisions on your behalf. There is no guarantee that the Court will appoint the person you would have chosen to make decisions for you and nothing can happen with your decision making until the Court order has been made, which is distressing for your loved ones.

By making LPAs, you keep control and are safe in the knowledge that, whatever the future may hold, you have someone there to make decisions on your behalf, someone you trust and who will have your best interests at heart.
Have a chat with us about how LPAs can support you and we’ll help you to make the necessary decisions.

Can you change a POA?

If you no longer need your EPA or LPA or you want to make a new one, you can cancel it (provided you still have mental capacity to make that decision).

Often powers of attorneys are changed because the attorney is no longer able or willing to act for you. This is why re recommend LPAs (as opposed to EPAs) because you can appoint replacement attorneys to act. This all gives you flexibility and reassurance that there will always be someone who can help you and act on your behalf should something untoward happen to you.

How much does it cost to make an LPA?

We offer competitive and fixed rates to make LPAs. The costs depend on if you are making a single LPAs (for instance just a Property & Financial Affairs LPAs) or both types (Property & Financial Affairs as well as Health & Welfare).

If you make your LPAs at the same time as making your Will (and we recommend you do this), we offer discounted rates for the LPAs.

Unless you are on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits, you will need to pay a fee to the court to register your LPA. This fee is £82 per LPA.

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