Powers of Attorney are instruments which allow a third party to take decisions on your behalf if you lose the capacity to do so.
You may have more than one person nominated. Whoever is picked should be someone you trust and it is sensible to have a solicitor or other professional in the role. You can have more than one person named as attorney.
How do you make a Power of Attorney?
Powers of Attorney are created by filling in a government form, registering it with the Office of the Public Guardian and paying an £82 fee. You must have the mental capacity to take decisions when any Power of Attorney is set up but it need not come immediately into effect.
If the situation is temporary such as an extended stay in hospital, an ordinary power of attorney can be used to allow a family member or a legal professional to exercise limited control of your finances – for instance, access to a bank account to pay bills but no access to savings.
If your capacity to make decisions is likely to be diminished for the long term then the best option is the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
There are two forms:
• health and welfare where the Attorney can take decisions such as regarding your daily routine, for example, washing, dressing, eating; medical care; moving into a care home; and on life-sustaining treatment
• property and financial LPAs allow the Attorney to pay bills, collect pensions or benefits, manage bank and savings accounts or even sell your home
You can set up an LPA but not have it come into effect until you decide the time is right or if your capacity diminishes below an agreed point. While you retain the capacity to make decisions you can cancel an LPA at any time. You can also vary the terms of the LPA if you wish.
It is important for attorneys to understand the situation when the subject of a power of attorney dies. It might seem common sense that the attorney can continue to pay bills but this is not the case. In the event of death, the power of attorney dies with the subject and it is the executor of the estate who holds the purse strings. For this reason, it may be wise to name your attorney as executor of your estate.