27th January 2020

The importance of choosing the right attorneys

The steady rise in life expectancy means it is more important than ever that people appoint someone to take control of their financial and healthcare decisions if they are no longer able to do so themselves through ill health. This is done by appointing attorneys under a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which gives the people you choose authority to make decisions for you; but what can you do to prevent disagreements between the attorneys?

Why you need to make a Lasting Power of Attorney

“While it can be daunting to place your affairs in the hands of other people, it is important to remember that if you do not have an LPA in place at the point that you lose capacity then the Court of Protection would need to appoint someone to make decisions for you. This could end up being someone whom you do not trust and would not have chosen for yourself,” explains Jessica Pye, Associate with MacDonald Oates LLP Solicitors in Midhurst.

“How much better it is to choose for yourself while you do have capacity and have the peace of mind of knowing that your affairs are in order.”

Choose your attorneys carefully

Think carefully about who you are going to have as your attorneys, as you are giving them a big responsibility to make decisions for you. You need to trust them and feel confident that they will always make decisions in your best interests. It is sensible to appoint at least two attorneys; these people could be family members, close friends and/or qualified professionals. Think about their personal circumstances, their own health and ability to look after their own affairs, as well as how well they get on with each other. It is likely you will be storing up problems for the future if you appoint people who cannot work well together now.

Make your wishes known

Many issues can be avoided by discussing your wishes in advance with your attorneys and ensuring they understand their duty to act in your best interests. There are ways to include specific wishes in the LPA itself, but it is vital to get expert legal advice on this to make sure that they are worded carefully and will be legally valid.

You can also include your wishes in a separate letter to be kept with your LPA. Although this is not legally binding, it will give your attorneys helpful guidance on how they should be making decisions for you.

If your attorneys cannot agree

Should a disagreement arise between the attorneys which they cannot resolve, ultimately the court would need to intervene. This could result in the attorneys being removed and the court appointing a deputy to take over the management of your affairs.

This highlights how important it is to think carefully at the outset about who you are going to appoint as your attorneys, and that you can trust them not only to act in your best interests but also that they will work well together.

For further information, please contact Jessica Pye in the Wills, Probate and Trusts team on 01730 819190 or email jessica.pye@macdonaldoates.co.uk.