What is one? An attorney is quite literally someone legally authorised to act on behalf of someone else. There are various forms of powers and this has led to a great deal of confusion in recent years but I will attempt to set out the two most common powers and their uses.
Enduring Powers of Attorney or EPAs. These are wide reaching powers given to the attorney to deal with all financial matters on behalf of the donor (the person making the power). They are valid as soon as they are signed UNTIL the donor loses the ability to direct the attorney as to his or her wishes.
Once that happens, the EPA must be registered with the court. This can be a lengthy, costly and complicated process which is why the previous government decided to replace them with Lasting Powers of Attorney. It is no longer possible to make an EPA however if you have one already these are still valid.
Lasting Powers of Attorney, or LPAs were introduced by the Government from September 1, 2007 to combat the delays and costs in registering a power of attorney when it is needed most. LPAs come in two forms, one for health and welfare and the other for finance and property. The following applies to the financial LPA.
These forms are not valid UNTIL they are registered which means once they are registered they can be used REGARDLESS of whether the donor loses the ability to make decisions for themselves. The court costs are payable on registration which means they are paid for by the donor and not the family or attorney who were often left under the old EPAs having to pay for expensive court proceedings from their own funds.
You do not have to register the LPA at the time of creation, it can sit with your Will until such time as it may be needed.
It cannot be used until registration (a health and welfare LPA can only be used once registered and the donor has lost the ability to decide for themselves). I often advise clients to register at the outset as it means they can use the LPA any time – if they are abroad and want their attorney to manage their finances or simply don’t want the hassle of dealing with their finances at any point.
The benefits of drawing up an LPA now are that you can decide who you want to act on your behalf. If you are involved in an accident and are suddenly unable to manage your affairs then your attorney can step in and help.
They can access your finances which would otherwise be unavailable without a court order. This is essential if you are an unmarried couple or have sole accounts.
If you have any questions we would be happy to answer them, call Emily Allchurch on 01243 790532 or Louise Hobbs at the Owen Kenny Partnership on 01243 864865 – we are happy to do home visits if required.