We are often asked to prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney on behalf of clients. However, it can also be a daunting prospect for the proposed attorney, who may never have acted in this capacity before. At Beviss and Beckingsale we are used to assisting Attorneys and advising them in relation to their duties under the Power of Attorney. It is important that you are asked to be an Attorney you understand the implications of accepting that role.
I've been asked to be an Attorney, what does that mean?
The person making the Power of Attorney (the "Donor") trusts you to help them make and act on important decisions for them when they are unable to do so for themselves.
Is this about money or medical matters?
It can be either or both. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs deals with primarily financial matters - operating bank accounts, paying bills or dealing with a house sale. An LPA for Personal Welfare covers medical treatment and personal care and can include directions as to end of life care.
Is it all down to me then?
The Donor can appoint one Attorney to act alone or several to work together. It is possible to have different Attorneys for personal and financial matters but they need to be able to work together.
It is also very important to involve the Donor in decision-making as far as possible.
What do I have to do?
In the most common situation you will need to take over running the finances of someone who is starting to struggle to cope on their own. Paying household bills, running their bank accounts and dealing with tax and benefit affairs. You will need to be well organised and keep careful records of what you've done. The overriding consideration is that you must act in the best interests of the Donor's at all times.
What can't I do?
Unless you are a professional Attorney such as an accountant or solicitor, you can't charge for being an Attorney but you shouldn't end up out of pocket either and any expenses you incur for the Donor like postage or phone charges should be reimbursed.
You can make small birthday and Christmas gifts on their behalf if they would normally do so, or maintain a direct debit to a charity but it is not usually in the Donors "best interest" to make a large gift to you or you family!
You are not able to change the Donors Will on their behalf (although this can sometimes be done by applying to the Court of Protection).
Being an Attorney is a position of very great trust and can be a time-consuming job but it allows you to provide crucial support that can be invaluable to a friend or relative when they are at their most vulnerable. If you would like to discuss any of the above with us please contact Liz Heron ask at any of our offices.