If you have recently been appointed to act as attorney for a loved one under a lasting power of attorney, you may be feeling quite daunted. Shelly Wainwright, wills and probate lawyer at Ansons Solicitors in Lichfield, offers some advice on what the role entails.
The first thing you need to do is clarify what type of attorney you have been appointed as. There are two types:
You may have been appointed with just one or both powers; you may be the sole attorney or one of many. Each power of attorney carries a different set of responsibilities, but there are strict rules of conduct for both.
Assessing mental capacity
If the person you are acting for still has their mental capacity but would like your help, then the first step is always to talk them about what they would like you to do. They may just want you to support them when they deal with matters themselves, or they may want you to do things on their behalf. You are obliged to follow their instructions if they have the mental capacity to give instructions to you. It is only if you are acting when the person no longer has mental capacity that you can act without referring to the person concerned.
If and when you do need to act, the key point to remember is that you are in a position of trust and need to act in the best interests of the person at all times. The lasting power of attorney gives you the legal authority to act on behalf of the person who has appointed you. For example, under a financial lasting power of attorney; you cannot treat the person’s assets as though they are your own. You should not mix the persons money with your own. You need to keep full records: receipts and bank statements etc. to show what you have been doing.
Getting health and advice
A lot of decisions you may need to make will be common sense and to help you there is plenty of information online, see https://www.gov.uk/lasting-power-attorney-duties.
You can also contact Ansons Solicitors for some initial advice and guidance about what you are able to do under the terms of the lasting power of attorney. There are some limits to what you can do and if you are in any doubt please take advice first. If there is a big decision to be made then it may be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection for the court’s authority to proceed and we can help you with this type of court application.
If you have been appointed as an attorney this means that the person concerned trusts you to act in their best interests. They are paying you a compliment by appointing you! With a bit of organisation and time spent you will repay their trust in you and make their lives much easier in the future.
For a confidential discussion about lasting powers of attorney contact Shelly Wainwright in the wills and probate team, on 01543 267 984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ansons Solicitors has offices in Cannock and Lichfield, Staffordshire.
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