We hope that it would not be a shock to you if had to act as an attorney for someone but sometimes it is! Often people agree to act as an attorney without fully understanding what is involved. It is not always as simple as you may think and it can change very quickly from being helpful to a friend to a full time job.
You will have been asked to sign a lasting power of attorney if you are appointed to act. It is important that you understand what you have been asked to do and how you have been appointed. You need to check whether you have been appointed as a first choice or a replacement attorney, whether you are to act jointly, jointly and severally or a mix and match of the two. You need to check whether you are subject to any restrictions and conditions in relation to decision making. You also, and most importantly, must make sure the lasting power of attorney has been registered.
It is really important that you make sure you are familiar with the expectations of the Mental Capacity Act which are set out in the Code of Practice. Chapter 7 of the Code of Practice sets out what is expected of an attorney. There are specific rules that relate to some things an attorney cannot do for an individual for example making large gifts. You do not want to fall foul of these rules and regulations.
If you need to look at the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice click the following link.
When you are familiar with what is expected of you the next step is to obtain some certified copies of the lasting powers of attorney under which you are appointed. It is likely that third party organisations will want to see these. If you have been appointed under a lasting power of attorney since September 2019 you may be eligible to access the documents under the new online LPA access scheme.
You need to familiarise yourself with the financial affairs of the person who has appointed you as a property and affairs attorney. If you have been appointed as a health and welfare attorney it would be a really good idea to get to know the thoughts, wishes and wants of the person you are to look after in relation to the health and wellbeing so that you know what they want when you are needed to make decisions.
And you do all of this before you actually do any work! Once you are familiar with
ll of these things you then need to manage, at the point at which you are either asked (in the case of financial powers of attorney) or when capacity is lacking, the decision making process. This means making sure that bills are paid on time, debts are not incurred, funds are correctly invested, income is collected, benefits are collected or cancelled as necessary, paying care fees, taking financial advice, keeping accounts and records and answering questions if you are asked by the Office of the Public Guardian. In relation to health and welfare you may need to discuss issues with GPs, opticians, dentists, make decisions about appropriate care settings and whether or not someone receives life sustaining treatment.
Acting as an attorney is not an easy job and you really should make sure you fully understand what you are letting yourself in for. If you are an attorney, and are feeling a little lost of overwhelmed, give our team a call as we will help take the stress out of the situation for you.