A Power of Attorney is a legal document where a person gives another person or persons (the Attorneys) power to make decisions and deal with legal formalities and documents at their direction or on their behalf. They can also make decisions regarding their heath or care when a person is unable to make those decisions for himself. From 1 October 2007 this is called a Lasting Power of Attorney.
There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney:-
- Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney which allows your Attorney to have authority to deal with property and finances as you direct while you remain able to deal with these matters yourself, and then to take over matters for you should you lose mental capacity to do so; and
- Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney which allows your Attorney to make decisions about your heath and care matters on your behalf when you no longer have the mental capacity to do so yourself. This can include, if you so wish, the giving or refusing consent to life sustaining treatment in certain circumstances.
How do I put a Power of Attorney in place?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is an important document and you should take great care in choosing your Attorneys. They should be trustworthy and have applicable skills to make the decisions that you are entrusting to them. You can appoint more than one Attorney and must decide whether they must all act together, or whether they can act separately. You can also appoint replacement Attorneys should an Attorney die or no longer be able to act. Special care needs to be taken when making these decisions and putting the Lasting Powers of Attorney together to ensure matters work as you wish – the documents cannot be amended at a later date.
The are formalities to be followed when creating Lasting Powers of Attorney. They must be signed by you and your Attorney and witnessed in a particular order. In addition someone else must certify that you understand the nature and scope of the Lasting Power of Attorney and have not been unduly pressured into making the power. Our team can advise you on matters to consider and additional powers or instructions to include, which often require specialist wording, depending on your particular circumstances and wishes.
The Lasting Power of Attorney must be registered with the Office of Public Guardian before
it can be used. A Property & Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney can be used (at your direction) before you lose the mental ability to deal with your own finances, and also if you lack the capacity to make financial decision yourself. A Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used if you lack mental capacity to make welfare or medical decisions for yourself.
Existing Enduring Powers of Attorney made before 1 October 2007 will continue to be valid but only apply to your property and affairs. If you wish someone to be able to make decisions regarding your health treatment, welfare matters and even being cared for at home or in residential care, you will need to make a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney.
There are also other types of Power of Attorney for short term or specific use which we will be pleased to advise on should your circumstances require.
Please telephone the following contact numbers to arrange an appointment if you would like to talk to one of our East Sussex solicitors:
Eastbourne 01323 727321
Hailsham 01323 841481
Polegate 01323 487051
Meads 01323 407577