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Choosing who to appoint as an attorney for your Lasting Powers of Attorneys

Once you have chosen whether or not you wish to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), you need to consider who you want to act as your attorney or attorneys. This is an important choice which you should carefully consider, taking into account the role and responsibilities that come with being an attorney and who you can trust to act in your best interests in the event you are unable to deal with your own affairs. In this article, we’ll discuss who can be an attorney and things to think about before appointing your attorney or attorneys. 

Who can I appoint as my attorney for my LPA? 

You can legally appoint anyone over the age of 18 to be your attorney in your LPA. However, if you are setting up the Property and Financial Affairs LPA, any person you choose to be your attorney must not be bankrupt. (There are two types of LPAs you can choose to set up, Health and Welfare and Property and Financial Affairs, which are discussed in more detail in our blog ‘Why it’s important to consider setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney’. 

You can also have as many attorneys as you want to act on your behalf, and if you have both types of LPAs, you can have different people acting as attorneys for the different LPAs. Typically though, most people will choose between one and four people to act as their attorneys. 

Some people do wish to appoint a professional, such as an accountant or solicitor to act as their attorney, more often for property and financial affairs LPAs. Usually, people only tend to appoint a professional in cases where there isn’t anyone you are comfortable with handling your affairs or where there are conflicts within a family. When using a professional though, they have to charge for time spent acting as your attorney, so you need to factor this into your decision and speak to the professionals you are considering to fully understand the costs that would be involved. 

The benefits of choosing more than one person to act as your attorney

Choosing more than one attorney can be a good idea to help ensure you have someone available to take on the role, in the event something happens to one of your chosen attorneys or one attorney is for example unable to help when you need it due to being away etc). 

If you do choose to have more than one attorney, you can also decide how they make decisions. For example, you can state they can make decisions separately, together, or both – known as ‘jointly and severally’. This can be beneficial in terms of holding attorneys accountable for their decisions. 

Even if you only appoint one original attorney, it is always recommended to have at least one replacement attorney, who will only step in if the original becomes unable to act eg, if they die or become incapacitated themselves.  If you do not do this and your original attorney is unable to act you will be left without an active LPA in place.  You cannot amend LPA’s but have to revoke them and start all over again with a new one.  If you had lost capacity yourself at that point you would not be able to make a new one, which would mean that all the benefits of having an LPA would have been lost.

What should you consider before choosing your attorneys?

When choosing your attorneys, you must consider the fact that you are entrusting the person/s with the responsibility to make incredibly important decisions about you, your life, your finances and assets that align with your wishes – in the event, you cannot do so or need assistance in doing so if you become physically too unwell or lose mental capacity whether due to illness or an accident. 

The best people to appoint as attorneys should be: 

  • Someone you trust will make decisions in your best interests with your past and present wishes in mind.
  • Is someone you can rely on to have the skills and ability to carry out the role of attorney.
  • Is someone that knows you well.

Other points to consider, to help you determine the right person/people to appoint as your attorney are:

  • How well the person you are thinking of appointing as an attorney makes decisions about their own finances, wellbeing and wellbeing of others they may take care of.
  • Think about when in the future you may need your attorneys to start making decisions for you – this could for example be quite some time in the future and you may wish to consider the age and possible health of your chosen attorneys in the future i.e. will they themselves still likely be able to act as an attorney for you far into the future. 

Why you should discuss your intentions with the people you are considering appointing as an attorney in your LPA 

If you have considered all the above points and decided who you would like to be your attorney/s, then it is advisable to discuss your intentions with them. They will need to agree to be your attorney and also, you should speak to them about what your wishes and preferences would be in certain events i.e. decisions about your future care, what you want to happen with your finances etc. This can ensure your attorneys are comfortable and happy to take on the responsibility of the role and will act with your wishes in mind. 

If you need further advice or assistance in regards to setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney, speak to our specialist team today by emailing or calling 01484 442 700 (Holmfirth) or 0161 427 0084 (Marple Bridge).

Written by Carol-Anne Baker

Lasting Powers of Attorney

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