Being an attorney – the Office of the Public Guardian publishes a comprehensive guide

Posted on: September 23rd, 2016

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has published comprehensive guidance on ‘How to be an attorney’. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document in which you appoint a person or people of your choosing to be your attorneys, so that they are able to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so in the future.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney available. Firstly, a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs, which enables your attorneys to make decisions in relation to your finances and includes being able to sell your property. There is also a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, which enables your attorneys to make decisions in relation to your personal welfare for example where you reside.

Being an attorney can be a demanding role. For example, the attorney may have to be heavily involved in decision making for an individual and the role can be an extremely time consuming. In relation to property and affairs, an attorney may have to pay care fees, sell property and manage investments. In relation to health and welfare, an attorney may have to decide where the individual lives and what treatment they receive. Unfortunately, we are aware of attorneys not being able to fulfil their sometimes demanding role, which results in the Lasting Power of Attorney being revoked and the attorneys being removed from their appointment.

Sue Bowler, Partner at Coffin Mew has been appointed to the Court of Protection’s panel of approved Deputies which means that the Court itself refers cases to Sue where an existing Deputy or Attorney needs to be replaced. Sue Bowler is one of only a handful of Panel Deputies in the South of England.

In order to assist attorneys in their role, the OPG decided to create comprehensive guides to help attorneys be as effective as they can. Separate ‘How to be an attorney’ guides for financial and health and welfare decisions look at getting started as an attorney; how to make decisions in the donor’s best interests; and common attorney scenarios such as resolving disputes. Please see below for the links to the guides;

It is very important to consider a Lasting Power of Attorney whilst you have capacity. A Lasting Power of Attorney takes less time to register and is less costly than a deputyship. At Coffin Mew we will discuss the available options with you so you are fully aware of all the possibilities when preparing your Lasting Power of Attorney to ensure that your requirements are met. Please contact our Wills Trust and Probate department on 023 9236 9520 for further information.

If the individual lacks capacity to manage their property and affairs, you may wish to consider a deputyship application. A deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection to manage an individual’s property and affairs. The OPG have existing guidance on ‘How to be a deputy’. Should you require further information regarding deputyship applications to the Court of Protection, please contact our Court of Protection Team on 023 9236 4312.