Powers of Attorney are essential legal documents that ensure your healthcare and financial affairs will be taken care of by somebody you trust, in the event that you become mentally or physically incapable of doing so yourself. While this may not be something we want to think about, the reality is that it could happen to us or somebody we are close to – so it is important to prepare.
With this in mind, we’ve prepared a guide on how to register power of attorney. This handy blog provides all the information you need to know about setting up these important documents, so you can be safe in the knowledge that everything will be taken care of.
Why Make a Power of Attorney?
Given that we are all living longer, there is an increasing risk that we may become physically or mentally incapable to make our own decisions.
Putting a Power of Attorney in place means that, if the worst does happen, you can rest assured that your affairs will be taken care of on your behalf, by somebody you really trust to have your best interests at heart.
There are two main types of Powers of Attorney, which are:
- Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): these come in two forms to cover your financial decisions or health and care decisions. They are designed to last indefinitely.
- Ordinary Power of Attorney (OPA): this is meant as a temporary measure to cover specific periods of time, such as if you’re abroad or recovering from an injury.
How to Set Up an LPA
There are several steps to creating a Lasting Power of Attorney. The first thing you will need to do is request a form from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). You will need different types of form depending on which LPA you wish to register:
- LP1F: if you would like an LPA for financial affairs
- LP1H: if you would like an LPA for health and care decisions
The next thing you will need to do is nominate the people you (the donor) want to look after your affairs (the attorneys). You also decide whether you want them to act jointly or “jointly and severally”.
Giving your attorneys the ability to act severally means each of them will be able to enact the POA separately, something which is a great advantage if they live a large distance apart. Although it is possible to name just one attorney, you may run into difficulty if you share a property with them. This is because they will have to appoint a trustee before the property can be sold.
Once you’ve appointed your attorneys, you must get your forms signed by a certificate provider. This will usually be your doctor, as they can attest that you are of sound mind when going into this arrangement. Your attorneys must also sign the document before it is submitted to the OPG.
Your Power of Attorney forms will also ask for the names of “people who should be told”. This relates to anybody you feel should be informed that you are planning to set up a POA and is a completely optional task. If you do decide to name somebody, however, you will need to send them an LP3 form. They will then have three weeks to raise any concerns to the OPG.
When the OPG is satisfied that all the conditions have been met, it will issue you with a stamped copy of the POA. Only when you have received this, will your document be valid.
How to Set Up an OPA
An Ordinary Power of Attorney is only valid while you continue to have the mental capability of managing your own affairs. It only covers financial matters and not decisions relating to your health and care.
With an OPA, you have more scope to limit the powers of your attorneys. For example, you can stipulate that they can only manage your bank account, but not your home.
Because an OPA has to be worded a specific way, it is a good idea to consult a solicitor to put it together on your behalf. This will ensure that your document will be valid and your wishes will be adhered to.
Who to Choose as an Attorney
Whoever you nominate as an attorney has a duty of care to act in your best interests – and not their own. They also will have complete control of your affairs, especially if you register an LPA. This means you have to choose somebody you really trust.
Acting in a donor’s best interest means that the attorney should:
- Do everything possible to include you in the decision making process
- Consider any past or present feelings/wishes you may have expressed
- Talk to other people close to you (such as family or friends) who may be able to guide them on what might be in your best interests
- Respect your right to privacy and recognise it may not be suitable to discuss your personal arrangements
Given the level of responsibility involved, most people will choose their partner or children to be their attorneys. However, they must be over the age of 18 and cannot be your paid carers – unless they are family members. You can also nominate friends or a business (such as a bank), however a company will usually charge a fee for this.
Seek Expert Advice
Because Powers of Attorney are so important, it’s essential that you get specialist support. If your document is not created correctly, you may find that your wishes might not be carried out – adding further pressure in what will already be an incredibly stressful time.
This is where Shams Williams can help. We are experts in the field of preparing Powers of Attorney and are committed to providing a tailor-made service to our clients.
We will take the time to get to know your individual needs and circumstances, so we can ensure that your affairs will be handled exactly how you want. This gives you complete peace of mind that if the worst should happen, your important decisions will be made by somebody you trust implicitly.