People can become unable to manage their own financial affairs at any stage of life. An accident, physical ill health or mental illness may make the everyday routine of paying bills, managing a budget and making financial decisions difficult and stressful and, in some cases, impossible.
The decision about who you appoint as your attorney is one that requires careful consideration. An attorney should have a strong sense of responsibility and possess good judgement, as they may be required to make important and difficult financial decisions on your behalf. It is essential that you are satisfied that your attorney will exercise that authority in your best interests. In some cases, people do not have anyone suitable to act as their attorney and will appoint a solicitor instead. Our specialist private client solicitors have a wealth of experience advising clients on the preparation of Lasting Powers of Attorney in relation to property and finances. When required, the partners of this firm will agree to act as attorneys for clients.
Common decisions and actions taken by an attorney include:
Identifying all financial assets and registering the Lasting Power of Attorney with those financial organisations – typically this will include bank accounts and investment products.
Obtaining professional advice when appropriate. This could include financial advice on the appropriate investment of funds, or legal advice on any legal matter.
Identify all income and maximise where possible. This could include claiming state benefits or maximising investment income by making better investments.
Selling a property – very often this will be done so that the sale proceeds can be used to pay care fees.
Letting a property to create an income stream – this will include the need to observe all statutory duties that are imposed on landlords, particularly in relation to health and safety. An attorney has the authority to appoint a managing agent to collect rent and ensure compliance with their relevant statutory obligations.
Preparing and filing income tax returns with HMRC and ensuring that all taxes are paid.
Paying expenses and debts.
Contacting care providers to ensure the continuation of care.
The private client team at Pinney Talfourd strongly recommends that all clients create a Lasting Power of Attorney, irrespective of their age or state of health. Not doing so and then losing mental capacity can create significant difficulties with that person’s family, whose only alternative in those circumstances is to make an application to the Court of Protection to lead to their appointment as that person’s deputy. This is an expensive and administratively burdensome process that could have been avoided had a Lasting Power of Attorney been put in place in advance.
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