Giving someone the power to deal with your affairs can be a good idea, but if the document isn’t drafted carefully it can lead to expensive financial and administrative problems.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is the document which gives someone the authority to deal with your financial affairs. It is often set up in preparation of a time when you might become unable to deal with matters yourself. As such it has to be created while you are still mentally capable of understanding its purpose.
There are two different LPAs: one for health and welfare matters and another for financial affairs. You can make one or both types of LPA, and can choose more than one attorney for each.
Each document can specify exactly what your chosen attorneys are allowed to do, and limit them in their actions.
The attorneys will step in to act on your behalf if and when you become unable to manage your own affairs. You can also ask your attorney to act for you as a matter of convenience, for example so that you don’t have to make the journey to the bank in person.
What happens when you die?
When the time comes the LPA immediately ceases and your attorneys are no longer authorised to carry out any transactions. They then need to send the LPA document and any certified copies of it to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) together with a copy of the death certificate.
What happens when an attorney dies?
If your attorney dies, there are a number of possible outcomes. If only one attorney was appointed, with no replacement named, then you will need to make a new LPA, if you have the mental capacity to do so. If this isn’t the case then an application will need to be made to the OPG to appoint a deputy.
Where your LPA names more than one attorney, specifying that they can act “jointly and severally”, then the remaining attorney(s) can step in and continue to act.
Where the LPA names more than one attorney, but requires them to act “jointly” (so they are all required to make decisions together) then the LPA ceases as the joint attorney unit no longer exists.
If a replacement attorney was named, then they will take the place of the original single attorney, or of an attorney who was acting jointly and severally.
Where attorneys were acting jointly, then the replacement will take the place of all of the previous attorneys, ie. the deceased attorney and any others named with them.
Using an expert
Having a Power of Attorney document professionally drafted by experts is well worth the expense. If a document contains errors or is poorly worded it could end up being contested or being declared invalid. In that case, any legal action or application to the OPG to appoint a deputy would be expensive and could result in your affairs not being administered as you would have chosen.
If you would like to speak to a professional who specialises in drawing up Powers of Attorney, please contact Carole Rowe on 01903 231545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.