Who should you pick as an attorney?
The LPOA is a very powerful legal document. Whilst it can be extremely beneficial, you should give very serious consideration to who you choose to give LPOA as you are giving someone the power to stand in for you and manage your affairs without consulting you.
You may choose your spouse, a family member, a close friend, or someone you trust acting in a professional capacity, such as a solicitor. You should talk to your prospective attorney before committing them to anything as it is important they are ready and willing to take on this responsibility.
- You can pick anyone to be your attorney if they are over 18 years old and are not bankrupt.
- You can appoint more than one attorney, in which case you can have them act jointly, or they can act independently from each other (referred to as severally).
- You can appoint a replacement attorney if needed.
- If you have only one attorney, it may make sense for them to be younger than you as they will be more likely to outlive you.
The attorney’s duties and the safeguards in place
Once someone is registered as your attorney, they have a duty to act in your best interests and there are rules around what they can do. For example, a property and financial affairs attorney must ensure that they keep your affairs separate from theirs, keep receipts for transactions conducted on your behalf, and maintain a clear separation of their money and yours.
Sadly, there have been instances where attorneys have attempted to abuse their power. Although there are laws in place to protect against this, it’s important to think carefully about who you choose as your attorney.
To check the attorney’s decisions, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and Court of Protection may arrange a visit with you and/or your attorney. They may also contact other people such as your family, bank, or care workers. Anyone concerned for your wellbeing can also report their concerns to the OPG. If the attorney is not seen to be acting in your best interests, their powers can be removed.