Lasting Powers of Attorney for Property and Finance decisions were introduced in October 2007 and replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney. A Lasting Power of Attorney allows an individual to appoint one or more Attorneys to make financial decisions when the person in question can now longer deal with managing these themselves. These decisions can include paying bills, making investments and selling property, if required.
There has been a lot in recent press regarding Lasting Powers of Attorney and the management of people’s affairs when they have lost mental capacity. In particular, there have been instances highlighting the possibility of financial abuse by an Attorney through a Lasting Powers of Attorney. This can be devastating, not only on a financial level, but also the effect abuse can have on family relationships.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are very powerful documents and should not be entered into lightly. We at Enoch Evans LLP believe that everyone should have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, to cover the eventuality that they become unable to manage their property and finances themselves. Preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney allows a person to choose the attorneys that they trust most and ensure that those selected have the correct skills and motives to carry out the role in the best interests of the person making the Lasting Power of Attorney. The degree of authority that a Lasting Power of Attorney gives, means that independent and professional advice should always be sought when completing them to ensure that any future risks are avoided. Also, if anyone is worried that they do not know somebody suitable to act as their attorney, it is always possible to appoint someone independent, who will only have best interests in mind.
If a Lasting Power of Attorney is not prepared while a person has mental capacity, a Court of Protection Application will need to be made and the Court of Protection will then decide who should manage a person’s affairs. This is necessary in many circumstances, but takes away the opportunity for people to choose who they want themselves. Also, as the Deputyship Order cannot be completed when a person has capacity and can only be applied for when capacity is lost, this makes it impossible for anyone to assist a person in need, until the Deputyship Order is granted, which can take several months.
The Partners at Enoch Evans LLP have many years of experience in acting as either an Attorney or Deputy for our clients. If you are worried about your affairs, or how the affairs of a loved one will be managed in the future, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Wills, Tax and Probate Team