What legal advice can we help with?

When is the right time to make a power of attorney?

The short answer is that there is no time like the present.

There is a lot of misconception about what a power of attorney is, when and how it can be used and who needs one.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document by which you can appoint a person (or persons) you trust to act on your behalf when you are unable to deal with things yourself.

The most common kind of POA is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) of which there are two types: one appoints attorneys to deal with your property and finances and the other appoints attorneys to assist you in regard to your health and welfare.

Some people made Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) in previous years. You can no longer make an EPA, but you can still register it if you have already made one. Attorneys appointed under an EPA can act in regard to your property and financial affairs only.

There are also short-term POAs called General Powers of Attorney (GPOA). These are used to appoint someone to carry out a specific task for you, or assist you for a temporary period.

When can it be used?

An LPA can be used once it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). This is the government body that registers POAs and can investigate if there are any suspicions of wrong-doing by an Attorney.

The time it takes to register an LPA can vary but is typically between eight and twelve weeks. For this reason, a lot of people choose to register LPAs early, way before they are needed, to avoid having to wait several months at a critical time. The idea is that the LPA is ready before it is needed.

By contrast, a GPOA can be used at any time. However because it is not registered there is often confusion as to whether it remains valid. For this reason, typically GPOAs are renewed once every 12 months.

How are they used?

Once an LPA has been registered with the OPG (or at any time in the case of a GPOA) then it needs to be registered with the relevant organisations before it can be used by the Attorney. For example, an elderly person who doesn’t feel up to visiting their bank on a regular basis may register their LPA with their bank to enable their Attorney to deal with their banking on their behalf.

However if you are in good health and simply made the LPA in case of an unexpected accident or illness then there is no need to register the appointment of your Attorney with your bank just yet.

Who needs one?

They are a good idea for everyone. They can be used in the following situations:

• If you are involved in an accident
• If you become seriously unwell abroad
• If you have to stay in hospital for a long period
• If you have a progressive condition
• If you travel abroad for long periods
• If you are house-bound
• If you have severe memory problems
• If you struggle to manage your finances

If you haven’t appointed a representative to act on your behalf as your Attorney then the banks and hospitals may not be able to deal with them due to data protection and confidentiality policies. So it is best to choose someone (ideally more than one person) who can act on your behalf.

When can I make one?

You can make an LPA at any time as long as you have “sufficient mental capacity”. This means that you are able to choose for yourself whom you would like to appoint to act on your behalf and that you understand the authority that you are giving them.

If you have a condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s or if you have a stroke; you may not be deemed to have sufficient mental capacity to appoint an Attorney.

As health problems such as strokes are often unexpected, many people choose to make their LPA whilst they are in good health to pre-empt future problems.

Is there an alternative?

If you don’t have an Attorney, and you need someone to act for you, then the Courts can appoint a Deputy to assist you. This role is similar to being an Attorney but more onerous as Deputies have to file annual financial reports with the OPG and take out insurance bonds. A Deputyship is also more time consuming and expensive to set up.

If you would like assistance to tailor the right power of attorney to suit your needs please call one of our trusted and experienced solicitors based at our Bournemouth and Christchurch offices:

Clare Lawson – Moordown – 01202 527008
Lloyd Thomas – Lansdowne – 01202 294411
Andrew Lilley – Highcliffe – 01425 282150

Please note, this is not legal advice. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Registered Office: 13 Christchurch Road Bournemouth BH1 3JY. Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Aldridge Brownlee Solicitors LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England number OC334502

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