If you have been named as an Attorney by a relative or friend (known as the Donor), then you will be responsible for making decisions on their behalf and looking after their affairs if they were ever to become incapable of doing so themselves. You may have been appointed alone, or with others, to either act jointly or jointly and severally.
There are two different types of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), one for Property and Finances and one for Health and Welfare. You may have been appointed under one or both types.
Lasting Power of Attorney – Property and Finances
If you have been appointed as an Attorney for property and financial affairs you will be responsible for looking after the Donor’s accounts and any properties. You would be responsible for:
• using their bank and building society current and savings accounts;
• claiming, receiving and using their benefits, pensions and allowances;
• paying their household, care and other bills;
• buying or selling their home; and
• saving or making and selling investments.
When you are appointed as an Attorney, and whilst they still have capacity, you should speak with the Donor and find out where they keep all of their financial information and documents, so that if you ever need to act you have as much information as possible to enable you to do so. You should also find out about how they would like their assets to be dealt with in the future and about any charitable giving or birthday presents and other gifts that they make, which they would like to continue with.
Should you ever have to act as an Attorney, you must always try and help the Donor make a decision themselves if they are able to do so. If they cannot make a decision, then it must be made by you but you must ensure that you are always acting in their best interests. You should keep a record of decisions you have made and the Donor’s assets and accounts should always be kept separate from your own.
Lasting Power of Attorney – Health and Welfare
If you have been appointed as an Attorney for Health and Welfare, you will be responsible for making decisions about the Donor’s care and treatment, such as:
• where they live;
• the type of health care and medical treatment they receive;
• potentially decisions about life sustaining treatment; and
• day to day matters such as diet and daily routine.
When appointed as an Attorney, and before the Donor has lost capacity, you should ask them about any future care plans and any preferences they may have about diet, dress, hobbies and where they would like to live.
You should obtain details of their GP and any other health care providers such as dentist and optician.
You must help the Donor to make a decision about their own health and welfare where they are able to do so. If they have lost capacity to such an extent that they cannot make a decision, then it must be made by you.
The Lasting Power of Attorney itself may include information and guidance in the ‘Instructions and Preferences’ section to assist you but you must always act in the Donor’s best interests. You should keep records of any decisions you have made and the reasons why.
If you require any advice or assistance following being appointed as an Attorney, please contact a member of our Private Client team on tel: 01892 515022.
This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.