If you have been appointed attorney under a friend or relative’s Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), it is your responsibility to look after their affairs if they lose mental capacity. You may have been appointed on your own, or with other attorneys, and the LPA will specify whether you can act alone, or jointly with them.
The Office of the Public Guardian for England and Wales (OPG) has published some guidance for the two types of attorney, which will help you whether you are looking after their property and financial affairs, or their health and welfare.
Property and financial affairs
As an attorney for property and financial affairs, it’s your responsibility to look after the property and money of the person who made the LPA, who’s known as the donor.
This means you are responsible for their bank and building society accounts, claiming and receiving benefits, pensions and allowances, paying their bills (including for any care), buying or selling their home, and saving or investing on their behalf.
As soon as you become attorney, and while the donor still has mental capacity, make sure you get as much information as possible on where the donor keeps financial information, including the deeds to their home, and get certified copies of the LPA document.
Find out what their long-term plans are, for example, whether they want to sell or let their home if they need to move into a care home. Find out too, what their financial priorities are, for example, how much they like to keep in their current account, and how much to give to charity, or as birthday or other gifts.
Once you start acting as attorney, you will need to keep written records of their income and major outgoings, and keep bills. Make sure that their accounts are separate from your own.
It’s your job to help the donor make their own decisions, if they can. If they are not able to do so, you’ll need to follow any restrictions, conditions or guidance set out in the LPA. If it’s not clear, ask someone who knows the donor what they would be likely to do. Remember that every decision you make must be in their best interests.
Health and welfare
If you are an attorney for health and welfare, you need to make decisions on where the donor lives, which may be their own home or a care home, their day-to-day routine, their personal care and medical treatment.
As soon as you become attorney, and while the donor still has mental capacity, get to know the donor a bit better. Ask them where they want to live, and if it’s not specified in the LPA, whether they have made any care plans, including a living will. Find out what their preferences are, including diet, dress, hobbies, and where they like to spend their time. Ask what should happen to any pets, if they can no longer care for them.
Get certified copies of the LPA document, and contact details for their care providers, such as their doctor, dentist and optician.
When you become attorney you will need to follow any conditions set out in the LPA. If there is no clear guidance, ask others who know the donor.
As the donor’s attorney, you must help them reach their own decisions, if they can. You must always act honestly and in their best interests. Keep records of why you made particular decisions
Give your own contact details, as well as details of the donor’s likes and dislikes, to other people involved, including their family and friends, their doctor and other healthcare staff, and carers or care home staff. They may want to see proof of your identity and a certified copy of the LPA.