As national Alzheimer’s awareness month comes to an end, Anna-Marie Knipe, partner and expert in private client services at Birchall Blackburn Law, looks at what your role would be if you were named in a Lasting Power of Attorney.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney safeguards a person’s wishes if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of an accident or an illness like dementia.
When a person’s capacity becomes impaired, the attorney they appoint will have legal authority and will become responsible for making decisions on their behalf.
Will I be the only person making decisions?
It may be that you are one of a few people that have been asked to be an attorney, which means that the legal responsibility will be shared.
The person making the LPA will choose whether they want each attorney to have the power to act separately and on an individual basis or if they want the decisions to be jointly agreed on. If you have any doubts about making decisions with the other attorneys, you should voice these before agreeing to take on the role.
What will I have to make decisions about?
There are two types of LPA; one for property and financial affairs and one for health and welfare. You might have been asked to be an attorney for one or both.
As a property and financial attorney, you will be responsible for all the financial matters. This means looking after their money, paying bills, selling or renting property, making monetary gifts and honouring contracts on their behalf.
If you are a health and welfare attorney, you will become responsible for their general health and wellbeing. This means you will make decisions about accommodation, diet, clothing and whether they should start or stop receiving healthcare treatments.
When do I start acting as an attorney?
Once an LPA and its terms have been agreed, the document is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Whilst a financial and property attorney is then able to act immediately or wait until required, the health and welfare attorney will only be asked to make decisions when the donor is unable to act for themselves.
To begin acting as an attorney, you will need to provide certified copies of the original LPA document. It is important to remember that attorneys will only be able to act within the scope of the powers that are granted.