The New Year is often a time at which we all contemplate our futures and there is no better time to “put our affairs in order”. In the second of two articles, Stephen Roberts offers some food for thought…

Lasting Powers of Attorney (‘LPAs’) are powerful legal documents that can give someone (‘attorneys’) considerable authority to make decisions for you if you become mentally incapable of making decisions for yourself. Despite this, many LPAs are made without legal advice or independent input.

Stephen Roberts summarises the main benefits of using a solicitor when making LPAs.

Certainty

The process of completing LPAs may appear to be straightforward enough, however the laws governing LPAs and mental capacity are complex.

A solicitor is capable of providing qualified, regulated and insured advice. This advice relates to what types of LPAs to make, the authority (permission) that your attorneys would have, how and when the documents could be used and how the decision making abilities of your attorneys could be extended or restricted.

You can therefore be certain that the LPAs are capable of achieving what you intend them to do and are appropriate for your circumstances.

Independent Advice

LPAs are personally sensitive not just to the person making them but also to the family and disputes may arise both during the process of making LPAs and when they are used by the attorneys.

Using a solicitor as an advisor independent of the family can often achieve an outcome in which the person making the LPAs would receive independent advice on which LPAs to make and as to who to appoint as attorneys. This could help to reduce or remove animosity from the situation, which may not have been possible without the involvement of a solicitor.

Your Best Interests

It is often the case that the wishes and interests of the person making LPAs are not considered or are subservient to those of the attorneys.

Solicitors are required to act in the best interests of their clients and are obliged to speak out if they consider any pressure is being applied to the person making the LPAs. A person using a solicitor to make LPAs can therefore be sure that their best interests have been represented.