How to avoid a badly drafted Lasting Power of Attorney

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Over the years, I have met with a considerable number of new clients who have existing Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s) in place that simply do not work for their circumstances and families. Often the practicalities of how these documents need to work are overlooked by lawyers and families alike. A badly drafted LPA can cause problems and cost money in the long run.

A recent example of a new client highlights this point. The client’s mother had moved from her home into a care home due to deteriorating health and the house needed to be sold. The family consisted of three adult children, two of whom lived very close by and the other lived overseas. The lawyer who drafted the LPA had appointed the one who lived overseas as the only Attorney. No one else was appointed and this person was a very busy professional in the medical field.

A buyer was found for the house, now anyone who has ever moved knows that it never goes smoothly and there are often things that need signing urgently or decisions that need to be made. Having your Attorney living overseas in itself caused delays due to the time difference, post (the recent Russian cyber-attack on our postal system which stopped all international deliveries highlights this perfectly) and lack of availability meant nothing moved along easily. Everything took much longer than it should, even down to instructing a company to clear the house as the only one with authority to do so lived overseas.

Five months into the sale, the Mother died and everything is now on hold until probate is granted by the court. Sadly, the stress that it caused my client and the family was avoidable if the LPA had appointed the children who lived in this country.

LPA’s are practical documents and need to be treated as such. I always ask my clients – who are the people that you turn to for help? Those are the people you need to appoint as your Attorneys. They need to be in this country and bear in mind that you may need them to go to your bank, get you some groceries or help you move.

To help ensure that the LPA’s work for you and your loved ones here are some of my top tips:

  • Appoint at least two people who can work together and individually to ensure that you always have someone to call upon for help;
  • Appoint people that you trust and who live in this country;
  • Do not add restrictions, who knows what the future may hold;
  • Ensure that the LPA for Property and Financial Affairs can be used once registered, this even covers you being on holiday and needing something signed; and
  • Future proof your LPA’s as much as possible, you cannot amend them once registered and they would have to be rewritten to make any changes. Spend money on legal fees wisely!

How we can help

Powers of Attorney are important documents; they hand over a lot of control and responsibility to another person. It is important that you understand the nature, effect and effectiveness of any Power of Attorney before starting to act.

For further information, please contact Sallyann Short in the Wills, Trusts and Probate team on 01480 411224 or email [email protected].

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