An Introduction to “Power of Attorney”
There are many reasons why someone may require assistance in administering their financial affairs.
The appointment of a legal representative to conduct your affairs is most usually achieved by creating a Power of Attorney. However, for those whose finances are very simple this is not always necessary; the Department for Work & Pensions has an informal procedure for nominating an “Appointee” to deal with State Benefits and banks may use a “Third Party Mandate” to allow an account to be operated by someone other than the account holder.
In any but the most simple cases and to put the arrangements on a formal legal basis a Power of Attorney is used. There are several types of Power; like any useful tool, you need the right one to achieve what you want. The simplest form is known as a General Power of Attorney and in this you (“the Donor”) will give your chosen representative (“the Attorney”) authority to do anything which you can do. The Power can also be more specific allowing the Attorney to deal with particular accounts or assets or to take specific actions. These options (formal and informal) will cease to be useful if the person giving the authority later loses mental capacity
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is the document designed to be used if mental capacity is impaired. This is the most commonly used type of Power because it is designed to continue in force regardless of the circumstances that might arise. Often people make appointments at Machins in desperation as they need to help a friend or family member and ask for LPA to be prepared when it is too late to give clear instructions due to failing mental capacity.
Next time, I will discuss how to set up a POA and what your solicitor can do to assist with this.
This article first appeared in the Sight Concern, Bedfordshire 'News and Views' magazinen (February/March 2015). For further information please visit www.sightconcern.org.uk