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Lasting Power of Attorney - How Do I Choose an Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you’re no longer able to or if you no longer want to make your own decisions or deal with your own affairs.

Heather Varley, an Associate and experienced Legal Executive in our Wills & Tax Team, explains some of the considerations when making a LPA and choosing an Attorney.

The role of Attorney involves a great deal of power and responsibility, so it’s important you trust the person you choose. It’s sensible to give the person you ask time to think about the role, to make sure they feel comfortable doing it.

Your Attorney could be a family member, a friend, your spouse, partner or civil partner. Alternatively they could be a professional, such as a solicitor.

Can I have more than one Attorney?

You can appoint more than one person to serve as your Attorney, in fact it is advisable to have more than one, or at least a replacement. This is because, if anything should happen to the Attorney, there is someone already appointed to step in. Otherwise the Donor (the person who has the LPA) has to start again, providing that they have the capacity to do so at that stage.

You should specify whether your Attorneys can act individually or whether they must act jointly. There is no limit on the number of Attorneys you can have; this would depend on your individual circumstances. For some people, having one Attorney would be sufficient, but for other circumstances, three or four Attorneys may be more suitable.

Who can be an Attorney?

Your Attorney must be over the age of 18 and have sufficient mental capacity. Anybody can be an Attorney with the exceptions of somebody who has been undischarged bankrupt, or someone subject to a debt relief order. It is usual for the Donor to appoint close family members as their Attorneys. However, Donors also frequently choose to appoint friends or their solicitors, either jointly with family members or on their own, or as replacements.

Can I restrict my Attorneys’ powers?

It is possible within the Lasting Power of Attorney document to place restrictions on how your Attorneys act for you. For example, you may not wish to give your Attorney authority over some particular assets. However, this is very unusual because your Attorney should be someone that you trust wholeheartedly, so it is usually unnecessary to impose restrictions.

In general, Attorneys cannot make gifts on your behalf without the approval of the Court of Protection. This is the case even if it will benefit the Donor, for example by reducing their estate for inheritance tax purposes.

Heather concludes “There are lots of things to consider when making a LPA, but we are happy to talk through all the elements as part of the process, enabling you to make the right decisions.”

Our Wills & Tax Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 and Heather or her team, will be happy to chat about your situation and you particular requirements.