Q: My husband and I are housebound due to health problems, but we have a niece whom we trust implicitly, who visits us regularly. We would like her to assist with handling our finances, including making trips to the banks on our behalf. A friend said if we set up an ‘Enduring power of attorney’ we could legally appoint our niece as a deputy to help us. Otherwise, if we lost mental capacity without setting one up, we would have to wait for the court to appoint someone to act on our behalf whom we didn’t know. What do we need to do?
A: Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) replaced the old Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) on 1st October 2007. Had you and your husband made EPAs, provided they were signed prior to 31st September 2007 they would remain valid. However, with EPAs your attorneys would not be able to register them unless and until you were losing or had lost capacity to make your own decisions.
LPAs on the other hand enable you to appoint attorneys to act for you on two specific counts – in relation to your health and welfare and in respect of your property and financial affairs. The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before your attorneys can make decisions for you, but you have the option of registering it before you lose mental capacity. This means that you can delegate tasks to your attorneys to carry out on your behalf at any time and your attorneys must always act in your best interest. And if you were to lose capacity, your existing attorneys would continue to act for you.
Your niece would seem to be an appropriate candidate as you trust her implicitly. Even with the country currently in lockdown due to coronavirus, GHP Legal can still assist you in preparing the necessary paperwork, oversee its execution and register the LPAs for you with the Office of the Public Guardian.
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