Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney
Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPOA) is a sensible thing for everyone to consider in their later life. It allows a trusted friend or family member to act on your behalf to deal with matters such as your health, money, or property when you are unable to due to illness or old age.
Because it’s such an important role, the decision over who you choose to give power of attorney shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here are a few things you need to know before setting up a LPOA.
What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPOA) is a legal document which allows you to specify a trusted person (or people) to act on your behalf. Once appointed, this person is able to instruct companies and service providers as if they were you.
The LPOA is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. As the person setting up the LPOA, you are described as the ‘donor’, and the person you choose to act on your behalf is the ‘attorney’.
You can appoint attorneys to look after your property and financial affairs, or your health and welfare.
A property and financial affairs attorney makes decisions about things like:
- money, tax, and bills
- bank and building society accounts
- property and investments
- pensions and benefits.
Who should you pick as an attorney?
The LPOA is a very powerful legal document. Whilst it can be extremely beneficial, you should give very serious consideration to who you choose to give LPOA as you are giving someone the power to stand in for you and manage your affairs without consulting you.
You may choose your spouse, a family member, a close friend, or someone you trust acting in a professional capacity, such as a solicitor. You should talk to your prospective attorney before committing them to anything as it is important they are ready and willing to take on this responsibility.
- You can pick anyone to be your attorney if they are over 18 years old and are not bankrupt.
- You can appoint more than one attorney, in which case you can have them act jointly, or they can act independently from each other (referred to as severally).
- You can appoint a replacement attorney if needed.
- If you have only one attorney, it may make sense for them to be younger than you as they will be more likely to outlive you.
The attorney’s duties and the safeguards in place
Once someone is registered as your attorney, they have a duty to act in your best interests and there are rules around what they can do. For example, a property and financial affairs attorney must ensure that they keep your affairs separate from theirs, keep receipts for transactions conducted on your behalf, and maintain a clear separation of their money and yours.
Sadly, there have been instances where attorneys have attempted to abuse their power. Although there are laws in place to protect against this, it’s important to think carefully about who you choose as your attorney.
To check the attorney’s decisions, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and Court of Protection may arrange a visit with you and/or your attorney. They may also contact other people such as your family, bank, or care workers. Anyone concerned for your wellbeing can also report their concerns to the OPG. If the attorney is not seen to be acting in your best interests, their powers can be removed.
How long does it take to register a LPOA?
The process of registering a Lasting Power of Attorney can take up to 20 weeks and the charge for each attorney to be registered is currently £82. This is a one-off cost, and there is nothing more to pay after the registration is complete.
What to do next
If you are considering granting a Lasting Power of Attorney for your financial affairs the first step is to speak with a legal adviser, who can help you with paperwork. You should also inform your financial adviser, who will help with registering the LPOA with Quilter and any other service providers. They can also talk through the practicalities of the process with you, and keep you informed about progress.
You can also contact the Office of the Public Guardian directly for help deciding if you should make a LPOA.
Office of the Public Guardian:
Telephone: 0300 456 0300
Textphone: 0115 934 2778
Source: Quilter Articles, Quilter Hub