Probate, Wills & Estates Update – Powers of Attorney

Victoria Pugh, Solicitor in Hatchers' Probate Wills and Estates team, provides an overview of Powers of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are powerful documents where one person, the donor, appoints chosen and trusted individuals, the attorneys, to step into their shoes to make decisions relating to property and finances and health and welfare in circumstances where they cannot make the decisions themselves due to reasons of mental incapacity.

Prior to a change in the law on 1 October 2007 Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) could be made appointing attorneys to deal with the property and finances of the donor.

EPAs remain valid providing they reflect the donor’s wishes and the attorneys are able to act. Where the donor has mental capacity the attorneys can exercise their powers and act under an unregistered EPA at the donor’s direction. However in practice it appears some financial organisations do not accept unregistered EPAs so it would be wise to check before putting the EPA into operation. If the donor is becoming or has become mentally incapable the attorneys have a legal obligation to register the EPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

LPAs can be made in respect of property and finances and health and welfare decisions and have to be registered at the OPG before they can be used. Again in practice, it has been noted that people are being asked whether there are LPAs in place before entry into a Care Home. Health and Welfare LPAs can give power to attorneys to made decisions about end of life care so nearest and dearest can have a say relating to life sustaining treatment to reflect the donor’s wishes.

If you have already made Powers of Attorney they should be kept under regular review. For more information on Powers of Attorney or an informal chat please contact the writer Victoria Pugh at Hatchers Solicitors LLP on 01743 237668 or email: v.pugh@hatchers.co.uk