We all seem to getting a little bit more aware of Lasting Powers of Attorney ( LPAs) and their necessity. The powers they confer upon the attorney are wide ranging and comprehensive, but and here’s the but, they come with responsibility. The attorneys primary responsibility is to the person giving the power of attorney, the donor. Every decision the attorney makes must be in the best interests of the donor.
This brings us neatly to the title of the blog. In a recent judgement by senior judge Lush an LPA was revoked because the donor’s daughter was spending £250 per month on sausage rolls and cakes for her elderly mother. Her mother was in a care home and suffering from dementia and had no appetite for such food with all of it going to waste. Now to the average person such spending could not be justified, imagine the amount of sausage rolls, pork pies and cakes that could be bought for £250 – more than any one person could eat in a month I’ll bet. The judge looked at it in rational terms came to the conclusion that she was getting enough nutrition from the care home. A few extras could have been justified not the amount being spent.
If you are thinking of making lasting powers of attorney here are a few pointers that you should think about before naming attorneys:
• Would they have my best interests at heart? Close family are (mostly) a safe choice siblings, children and parents are usually in close and frequent contact and have developed relationships over a number of years. Also they are more likely to know your wants and needs more than a casual acquaintance or work colleague, such as your intense dislike of pork pies!
• Are they responsible with their own money let alone someone else’s. As shown above family members are not immune to making rash or foolish judgments, so take their history into account before making appointments. Ask yourself if you would trust them with your debit card or a handful of cash because in effect this is the power you would give them if you were no longer able to act for yourself. Also when giving the power of attorney, you can appoint more than one attorney and you can also state how they are to act. Together for all decisions (jointly), together and independently (jointly and severally) or totally independently (severally). I usually recommend jointly and severally for the simple reason that if one of the attorneys was on holiday or away the LPA would continue to work without the need for all the attorneys to be present.
• Do they know me well enough to know what I like or dislike and what I would choose to spend my money on. It would not serve you well if you were a vegan appointing a butcher who believed in the restorative powers of animal protein to have power of attorney over your health and welfare. An extreme example I know, but think of all your foibles and idiosyncrasies that might appear perfectly normal to you but would be extreme to someone else, as they say up north “There’s nowt so queer as folk”
Also something to think about if you are named as an attorney, is could you like the “pork pie lady” go before a judge and justify your decisions. You are responsible for your actions as an attorney and must have the best interests of the donor, not your perception of best interests as the basis of any decision.
Please don’t let this put you off making an LPA – they are very important and with some good advice and good considered choices, essential documents. If you want any further advice or information please contact me, Mark Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01733 511060.