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If you’ve been named as an attorney for someone’s Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), you may be unsure how to actually exercise your powers when managing the person whose affairs you are handling (the donor). It can be nerve-wracking knowing where to start when acting as an attorney, so we’ve created this guide to give you some tips on how to be effective in your role.
What do I need to present when I’m using the LPA?
Firstly, you will need to be sure you have suitable copies of the LPA with a solicitor’s signature. Standard photocopies will often not be accepted by financial institutions or legal entities, but you will likely need to notify several companies at once and be worried that the original may get lost. The best option therefore is to have a solicitor make certified copies for you, speeding up the process and keeping your original safely in your possession.
When you are contacting any company or governmental department in order to use the LPA, you’ll need some form of personal ID. As you are effectively managing someone else’s affairs, there will be even more security imposed than if you were accessing your own details. Be prepared to prove your identity, as well as your address by presenting a recent utility bill in your name. Iff you are visiting a bank or a company in person, it’s possible that the tellers aren’t overly familiar with LPAs. Be prepared to speak to someone higher up in order to be allowed access to the information you need.
What can I access with a financial LPA?
Which accounts you’re actually allowed to access depends on what is stated in the LPA itself. You may have the rights to manage all accounts on behalf of the donor without specific limits, or you may only be assigned to certain financial responsibilities. Make sure you check through the paperwork to ensure you don’t run into any issues beforehand.
Most banks will work with you to provide as much support as they can to ensure you can be an effective attorney. Each institution will have its own guidelines on how you’ll be able to manage any affairs, so be sure to ask the questions when you are notifying them. Some banks may provide you with a debit card linked to the current account to allow you to make purchases and withdrawals, whereas some may only allow digital banking access in order to move funds around. It’s important to find this out and plan accordingly.
If you’re having issues acting as an attorney, be sure to keep in touch with the company and let them know why. Remember that as an attorney, it is your responsibility to ensure that everything runs smoothly for the donor’s finances and if someone is causing difficulties, it is in your donor’s interests to make a complaint.
Do I need to keep records of accounts?
Even though you’ve been legally appointed as an attorney, it’s extremely important that you document exactly what action you’re taking whilst acting in this role. There should be receipts and other documentary evidence of any transactions or transfers you’ve made and this should all be kept together in an organised manner.
You will need to keep the donor’s finances completely separate from your own. Do not use your personal bank account to make transfers or payments in a way that would cause a lack of clarity with the records, you must be able to account for every penny you have handled as attorney.
What should I consider before taking on the role of acting as an attorney?
Before acting as an attorney for someone, you need to carefully consider whether you’re happy to take on the responsibility. You may need to make difficult decisions about that person’s affairs, so ensure you know the person well and are confident that you can carry out their wishes. If you don’t feel that you can dedicate the time and commitment required for the role, let the donor know, so they can either appoint a different attorney or come to an arrangement where you can share the role with another person.
If you do decide to accept the appointment of attorney, make sure you familiarise yourself with what’s expected of you and what kind of decisions you may need to make on behalf of the donor. If you are able, this will allow you time to clear up any uncertainties as soon as possible to ensure you can carry out your duties to the best of your ability.