Help your attorney to help you
Posted on 23rd July 2018
Even though advances in technology and medicine mean that we can look forward to longer and healthier lives, we still need to plan for the future.
Many of us know that, as we grow older, we should put plans in place for a time when we might not be able to make decisions for ourselves. If not for our own sake, it will give our friends and family peace of mind.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) will allow someone else to take over responsibility for your finances or care, if you are no longer able to make these decisions.
Your attorney can be responsible for all aspects of your wellbeing, so it’s an important decision for you to make. Most people ask a close friend or relative, but it’s important that they understand your wishes and what the role involves.
Attorneys can make mistakes
The life insurance company, Royal London, say that in the 2017/18 tax year there were more than 1600 investigations into the actions of attorneys and deputies (who are appointed if you don’t have an LPA). That’s a 45 per cent increase, compared with the previous year.
One reason for the increase is that, as we live longer, more of us are deciding to put LPAs in place. However, many people who act as attorneys don’t have any previous experience and can inadvertently make mistakes.
Your attorney should make decisions in your best interest and take account of decisions you have made in the past. Wherever possible they should make decisions that are in keeping with your own previous choices, so they should know you well.
Keep everyone informed
To help your attorney, you should give some guidance, ideally in writing. If your attorney has any strong objections to your wishes, then you might need to choose someone else.
It’s also important to make sure that your family, friends, carers, and advisers know who you have chosen and what you have asked them to do.
This will help everyone to understand the implications of your wishes, and it could prevent problems later on. It can also be very helpful to let your doctor, council and bank know who has been appointed as your attorney.
Do your filing
One of the biggest challenges for your attorney will be finding out what needs to be done. You can help them a lot be keeping good records and filing things like utility bills and bank statements so that they are easy to find.
Your attorney should also keep records of any decisions they make on your behalf and why. In case they’re needed, it’s also a good idea to have several certified copies of your LPAs in your files.
Easy to understand
So that everyone can understand what your attorney does on your behalf, they must keep your money separate from their own.
In some circumstances your attorney can give gifts on your behalf – the test is ‘reasonableness’. This could include occasions like weddings or giving financial help to someone you have helped before or who is related to you.
The overall size of your estate will help to decide whether the gift is a ‘reasonable value’. It’s also important to make sure you will have enough left for your own needs, in case you might need to go into care in the future, for example.
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