Who should I choose to be my attorney?

capacity,attorney

No one knows what’s going to happen in the future, and it can be reassuring to plan ahead to make provision for yourself and your family if anything were to happen to you. Making a will is a useful first step, but you may also consider making a power of attorney in case at any point you become incapable of managing your own affairs through age, illness or accident. In England and Wales, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to appoint a trusted individual or individuals who, in the event of your loss of capacity, would be responsible for, and would have the legal authority to make, decisions in relation to your property and finances and/or your health and welfare.

Types of Lasting Power of Attorney

In England and Wales there are two types of LPA – Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare – and you can appoint an attorney for either one or both of these.

With a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, your attorney will be responsible for all your financial affairs. This means looking after your money and making sure all your bills are paid. They will be responsible for your investments, property, money and other assets.

With a Health and Welfare LPA, your attorney will be responsible for your welfare. This means looking after your health, personal care, wellbeing and quality of life. They will be responsible for your accommodation and your physical and mental welfare and will be able to make choices about where you live, whether you should receive a particular healthcare treatment, and day-to-day things like diet, dress and daily routine.

Who should I choose?

With such important responsibilities, it is vital to consider your choice of attorney very carefully.

Your attorney must be at least 18 years old and can be a family member, spouse/partner or friend. Alternatively (or additionally) you can engage a qualified professional such as a solicitor to act as your attorney.

Some key considerations are as follows:

  • Can you trust them to act in your best interests?
  • How well do they know you? Do they understand your wishes and values?
  • Are they capable? (How well do they look after their own affairs?)
  • Do they understand the responsibility of the role?

You should discuss the various responsibilities with your chosen attorney to make sure they understand what you are asking of them and they are happy to be appointed.

Can I choose more than one attorney?

Being an attorney can involve making some difficult decisions and may be quite time consuming so you may wish to appoint more than one attorney to spread the responsibility. If you choose to appoint more than one attorney, you need to decide whether you want each individual attorney to have the power to act separately (make decisions on their own) or jointly (where all of your attorneys have to agree on a decision).

You can also nominate other people to replace your attorney or attorneys if at some point they can’t act on your behalf anymore.

Where can I get more information?

You can find out more about LPAs in our leaflet, Why Make a Lasting Power of Attorney? You may wish to discuss your requirements with a qualified professional, who can talk you through the various considerations.

You can also find extensive information about how to make and register an LPA in this guide, produced by the Office of the Public Guardian.