10 FAQ’s for Attorneys Appointed Under a UK Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney – The role of the ATTORNEY – UK

Have you been asked to be an Attorney and are you wondering what this really means? Are you concerned that you don’t know what to do?

This article explains your role and answers some key questions.

Lets start with what is expected of you as an Attorney.

FAQ’s

1. What does an Attorney have to do?

An Attorney is someone who has the authority to make decisions and act someone’s behalf.

So, you would be expected to make decisions and carry out tasks on behalf of the person who signed the Lasting Power of Attorney.

The following information should give you a good understanding of purpose of an LPA, but first, a little more background.

2. Who can be an Attorney?

Anyone over 18, you can be a friend or relative and people frequently ask their spouse to do it. Normally it is someone they trust and who knows them reasonably well. You can choose a professional attorney who will be paid for their service.

3. When do I actually have to do something? When do I become the attorney?

If the person with the LPA becomes too ill to look after their own affairs, then you as the attorney can start to make decisions and manage their affairs for them.

We call this losing capacity. You lose capacity if you are unable to make decisions.

4. How can I tell if someone has lost capacity?

Often medical staff will be the first to declare that someone has lost capacity. But you should still consider for yourself whether you think that they are able to make a decision. The law gives guidance on decision making:

  • Are they unable to understand information relevant to the decision?
  • Can they retain that information?
  • Can they weight that information as part of the process of making a decision?
  • Can they communicate it (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means)?

It may be that the incapacity is only temporary, but you may still be required to make decisions for them if they are incapacitated for a short time.

There is more information in Part 3 of the Mental Capacity Act Please bear in mind that the reason for the incapacity could be physical or mental, it could be due to accident, illness or for another reason. What is important is whether they are “incapacitated”.

If you are unsure, you must get further advice. Talk to medical professionals who are treating the person who made the LPA.

Please note that it does not matter if the person is making unwise or unexpected decisions, you may not agree with them but that doesn’t mean they lack capacity. Remember, you can only act when they are no longer able to make decisions.

As an attorney you should try to help the person who signed the LPA to make their own decisions if possible.

Useful information on the capacity to make decisions can be found in the Mental Capacity Act Part 3

5. What decisions can I make? What does “manage affairs” mean?

The first thing you should do is look at the LPA document. There are two types and you may be an attorney under one or both types of LPA.

  1. Lasting Power of Attorney – Health and Wellbeing or,
  2. Lasting Power of Attorney – Property and Financial Affairs.

If you are an Attorney under a Health and Wellbeing LPA you may be asked to make decisions about various aspects of the persons personal life. For example, you could be asked to make decisions on what medical treatment they receive or where they are to live, even what they eat and wear. You will only do this if the donor has lost the capacity (ability) to make the decisions for themselves.

If you are and Attorney under a Property and Financial Affairs LPA you can make decisions about money and property, you can pay bills, collect benefits and even sell the persons home for them. You can use authority this at any time, the person making the LPA does not need to have lost capacity.

6. Doesn’t this give me a lot of responsibility?

Yes, it does. You are in a very privileged position to help someone you care for. The LPA gives you the power to access someone else’s money and property and make intimate decisions over their personal lives.

However, you cannot abuse your position. You are legally obliged to always act in the persons Best Interests. This means you can only act on their behalf and you cannot make any decisions that aren’t in their best interests. You must also take reasonable care when making the decisions.

For guidance on what “best interests” means, you should look at Part 4 of the Mental Capacity Act.

Checklist:

  • Has the LPA been properly stamped by the Office of The Public Guardian? The LPA must have been completed and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before you can do anything as an attorney.

Read through LPA document.

  • Look at any restrictions in the LPA has the person written anything in it? Look at page 6, section 5 of the LPA and make sure you comply with these restrictions. At section 6 the donor may have given the Attorneys guidance. This is does not have to be followed but should give you an idea of what the donor would have wanted if they still had capacity and it may help you decide what is in their best interests.
  • Does the document allow you to make decisions alone or do you have to make them with someone else “jointly”? You must make sure you comply with these directions. If it says “severally” this means that each attorney can act separately to the other attorney(s). Look at the LPA on page 5. You need to make sure that you can communicate with any other attorneys, especially where need to make decisions together.

Are you clear on your role and responsibilities? If not, have a look at chapters 4 and 5 of the Code of Practice of the Mental Capacity Act.

7. What happens if I have to spend my own money?

As a donor you are always entitled to claim your reasonable out-of-pocket expenses that you incur on their behalf. You should always keep a record and receipts for these expenses.

The donor may wish to pay a professional attorney for their services, in which case this will be detailed in the LPA on page 6 at section 7.

8. Do I have to be an Attorney?

No, you don’t. It is always better to tell someone that you don’t want to do it at the time they are making the LPA, so that they can choose someone else. If you withdraw later it can cause many problems and a lot of confusion.

9. Can I operate a bank account for the donor (person who signed the LPA)

Yes, you can if the LPA is a Property or Financial Affairs LPA. Always look at the guidance and restrictions in the document. Also make sure that you only use their money for their best interests.

If you are managing a bank account for someone else and finding the bank is not being helpful, then have a look for the “British Bankers Association Guidance for Consumers”. It gives guidance to you and the bank to help the attorney to access an account. You may wish to take it to the bank to remind them of their role.

10. Can I act on behalf of a parent, child or friend who has completed but not registered the Lasting Power of Attorney?

No, unfortunately it doesn’t matter how much you care for them or how much they would like you to help. It must be registered or you will not have the authority you need to conduct their affairs. In these circumstances you will unfortunately have to apply to the Court of Protection for the authority to act. They have to make a decision who should help and they usually place restrictions on the role of the attorney.

Effective Tips For Choosing A Right Bankruptcy Attorney

Nowadays we hear lots of people losing their jobs as unemployment is increasing a lot. We can never say that we will not face the situation as the unexpected happens. We should be ready with the solutions for the life’s most unexpected and complex financial problems.

In case if you are unable to come out of your financial problems, then you can consider bankruptcy filing. But, you should be aware of how to choose an attorney. Choosing an experienced bankruptcy lawyer will make a big difference to your financial situation. Consult the attorney before making a decision as it will impact your financial situation. Search the internet and come to a decision by reviewing all the recommended lists of your state’s bankruptcy lawyers.

Bankruptcy laws exist to give a solution to the person who is overburdened with debt and want to start freshly. These laws change frequently, in order to get most out of these constantly changing laws, a debtor needs a smart and experienced lawyer who deals entirely with bankruptcy. If you are in financial hardship and have a need of attorney, below are few things to take into account while choosing.

Gather a list of bankruptcy attorneys: Call the local bar association, talk with your friends and neighbors who have already taken the help of bankruptcy attorneys for reference, browse the internet to find attorneys in your area. After collecting a list of bankruptcy attorneys, depending on what type of attorney you need – consumer, commercial, business or personal, choose the best bankruptcy attorney. Call the attorneys personally and talk to them, this will help you to narrow down your choices and helps you in choosing the best attorney.

Consult the attorneys personally: Bankruptcy attorneys provide free consultation for first time, if the attorney charges the fee move on to the next attorney in the list, speak with attorney personally and find out how much experience he has and number of cases they have handled successfully. The bankruptcy attorneys should be able to provide detailed information about the bankruptcy from the scratch. If they don’t provide the information confidently for the questions you ask and look unclear, move on to the next attorney.

Find out the amount you have to pay: Ask the attorney about the amount you have to pay fully from beginning to end. Depending on where you live and the type of debt you are in, the bankruptcy attorney will charge you $1,000 to $3,500. While choosing the bankruptcy attorney don’t always choose the cheapest one. Find out which attorney is more qualified and who has good experience. Some bankruptcy attorneys will ask you to pay the fee fully in advance before filing the case. Talk to the attorneys in advance and come to a conclusion.

Options with the attorneys: Discuss all your options with the attorneys, make sure that the attorney you choose is ready to work for you, there are several attorneys who file your case without having interest to take up the case for quick fee. You can find out easily whether the attorney you chose is really interested to take up the case by interviewing the attorney.

Ratings and reviews: Check out the ratings and reviews about the attorney from your friends and internet.

Surely all the above steps will help you to find out good bankruptcy attorney; as a result you will hopefully get out of your debts.

Excuses People Use to Avoid Making a Lasting Power of Attorney and Why They Are Wrong

Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a must in today’s society. But despite this, many people do not have anything in place should the worst happen and they need someone to step in and manage their finances and well being for them.

A Power of Attorney is a document that allows someone you nominate to step in and manage your finances should you not be mentally capable of doing so.

Losing our capacity is not something any of us like to consider a possibility, however it is something that can happen to anyone and we should all be prepared. A few cost effective actions now can save a great deal of time, expense and emotional upset at a later date. As if you lose your capacity without having a LPA in place then your next of kin will have to go down the route of obtaining a guardianship which is a long and very expensive process.

Again, despite this being basic fact many people still make excuses not to put a Power of Attorney in place.

Some of the excuses that I have heard include:

I’m to young to need a Lasting Power of Attorney, those are for old people.

No, they are not, you’re never to young to need a LPA. When people think of losing capacity most of us think of elderly people with dementia, however losing capacity is not something that just happens to the elderly, and there are other ways besides dementia to lose our capacity. There are many ways to lose your mental capacity, an illness, a road traffic accident, a medical accident/negligence, or an assault are just some of the unfortunate events that can lead to a loss of capacity and these can happen at any age.

Lasting Powers of attorney give to much power to other people

No, attorneys cannot do whatever they like. You nominate your attorneys and hopefully that means you would nominate someone you would trust, and if you fall out or have a mishap in the meantime you can amend your Power of Attorney anytime before it is registered. You can also set limits on what your attorneys can and cannot do in the document. If you don’t want them to be able to sell your home for instance then you can stipulate that. As well as you having control of what the attorneys can and cannot do via the document you sign, the attorneys are also bound by laws to always act in your best interest and there are repercussions if they fail to do this.

If I make a Lasting Power of Attorney I have to register it right now, I’ll wait until it is needed.

No, it is entirely possible to write and sign a LPA but keep hold of it until you want to use it. This is because in order for a LPA to be used it must be registered, until it is registered it is just a piece of paper. So, you can make one when you are in your 30’s and not register it until you need it in your 70’s. Waiting until the LPA is needed is very dangerous, as you cannot make a power of attorney when you have lost capacity

In order to make a power of attorney the person making it must have capacity. They must be able to understand and agree to and what they are signing.

A Lasting Power of Attorney doesn’t last forever so what’s the point

There are different types of power of attorney, LPA are permanent, but an Ordinary power of attorney is not. An ordinary Power of Attorney is a document that you can set up to allow someone to look after your affairs while you are not able to, if for example you are out of the country, or unable to leave the house, or are in hospital for a while. This document gives someone else authority to act on your behalf. It is only valid while you still have mental capacity to make your own decisions about your finances. You can limit the power you give to your attorney so that they can only deal with certain assets, for example, your bank account but not your home.

I can only have one attorney and I don’t want to choose, it will cause fights in the family

No, you can have more than one attorney. The role of attorney is difficult at times and there is a lot of responsibility. So you can spread that about by having more than one attorney. This is called a joint attorney. You can appoint any number of attorneys in the same lasting power and you can specify if they can act on their own separately or if they must act jointly and come together. You can have them act jointly on some issues such as sale of property but have them act singly on all other issues there is a lot of flexibility and it is entirely up to you.

It’s too expensive to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney

It might have been expensive at one point in the past but these days it really isn’t. you can hire a solicitor to do this for you at a fixed fee, usually a couple of hundred pounds. Or you can have a go at it yourself using the government website which guides you through the process by asking you basic questions and completing the form on your behalf. It then provides you with instructions on how to sign the document to make it compliant with the regulations.

As you will have noticed the excuses people have for avoiding a LPA are simply untrue. The majority of people do not have a LPA waiting in the wings simply because it is one of those jobs that is often put aside for later, dismissed as unnecessary or considered too expensive.

You should now have a much clearer understanding of why a Lasting Power of Attorney is essential.