A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which gives chosen individuals authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to.
As a contentious practitioner, I see many disputes between Attorneys who were, in the first instance, appointed by loved ones with the very best of intentions. Breakdowns in family structure and relationships can lead to dispute and differing of opinions which, if not managed correctly and discussed on an open basis, can fester and lead to expensive and unwanted litigation.As a population, we are living longer and recent research by Alzheimer’s Research UK shows that sadly, 1 in 3 of us will be affected by the disorder. In addition, long term conditions and mental health concerns can also affect our capacity to make decisions.
How do we choose who we wish to make those very important decisions when we are unable to and what should we take in to account when deciding who should be our Attorney? The question of whom to appoint is very important and the following points should be discussed with the person(s) you are considering appointing:
- What is their understanding of Lasting Powers of Attorney?
- What are their motivations to be your Attorney?
- Do they understand the legal implications of becoming an Attorney?
- Are they willing to take on the responsibility?
- How will they work with their co-attorneys?
- If you are appointing Attorneys for property and financial affairs, how financially savvy are they?
- If you are appointing more than one Attorney, are there any pre-existing issues between them?
- If you are appointing just one Attorney, would you appoint a replacement in case they cannot act?
- Are there any issues which are likely to arise between your Attorneys?
- Do they hold different moral standards or beliefs from each other?
- Do they hold any views that may conflict with your views and prevent them from acting in your best interests?
- Are they financially secure themselves?
- Have they ever been bankrupt?
- Do they have any criminal convictions?
- Are they in good health?
Approaching these questions on an open basis with your Attorneys prior to appointment could prevent disputes arising further down the line. It is also important to keep lines of communication between you and your co-Attorneys open; the role of Attorney places strict legal obligations upon an individual which should not be entered in to without appropriate legal advice.
The costs of resolving disputes between attorneys and indeed, litigation in itself can be high and so I advocate the use of mediation and round table meetings in an effort to resolve disputes. Of course, the Court of Protection is a last resort should discussions and resolution not be possible. However, the most cost-effective and speedy way of resolving is often to talk and mediate disputes.
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At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who need to appoint or resolve disputes between Attorneys.