2020-03-25
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Coronavirus: should I be making a power of attorney?

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Posted by Tracy Ashby on 25 March 2020

Tracy Ashby
Tracy Ashby Senior Associate Solicitor

Given the unprecedented times we are facing due to the Coronavirus pandemic, your thoughts may be ‘how can my financial affairs be dealt with if I am ill or isolating?’ The solution is a power of attorney. We have highlighted the key points below:

What is a general power of attorney (“GPA”)?

A GPA (also known as an ordinary power of attorney) allows you to appoint one or more people (your attorneys) to deal with your financial affairs at your direction and sign on your behalf. You must have mental capacity for a GPA to be used.

Unlike an LPA (see below) you do not need to register a GPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used. Therefore, it is effective as soon as you sign it. You can stop the GPA being effective through a deed of revocation or it will automatically end if you lose mental capacity to make your own decisions.

What is a lasting power of attorney (“LPA”)?

An LPA allows you to appoint one or more people (your attorneys) to make or help make decisions on your behalf if you have an illness or accident which result in you being unable to make your own decisions, i.e. you lose your mental capacity. In practice, this means you and your loved ones will have more say over what will happen to you.

There are two types of LPA:

i) Health and welfare: can only be used when you do not have mental capacity and may cover decisions concerning your medical care, moving into a care home, life-sustaining treatment, your daily routine etc.

ii) Property and financial affairs: can be used with your permission as soon as registered with the OPG and may cover decisions concerning payment of bills, access to bank or building society accounts, selling your home or collecting benefits or a pension.

Should I make an LPA or GPA?

Here is a comparison of some key points for you to consider:

  Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) General Power of Attorney (GPA)
Timeframe At least 12 weeks to:
• Choose your attorneys
• Complete the relevant paperwork
• The OPG to register so that it is effective.
Approximately 1 week to:
• Choose your attorneys;
• Complete the document
• The GPA will be effective when you have signed.
When can the power of attorney be used? Health & Welfare can only be used when you are unable to make decisions due to mental incapacity.
Property & Financial affairs may be used, at your direction, once registered with the OPG.
As soon as you sign the document and it is witnessed.
Am I eligible to make the power of attorney? Yes if you:
• Are aged 18 or older; and
• Have mental capacity
Yes if you are:
• Are aged 18 or older; and
• Have mental capacity
Do I need mental capacity for the power to be used? No Yes

 

We will take instructions by phone and video calls and can have the documents ready for your approval within 48 hours of confirmation of your instructions. In addition, in relation to GPA or existing LPA we are able to provide advice and guidance on how your attorney can help you. Please be assured if we hold your original power of attorney documents we are able to provide certified copies of the documents to you or your attorneys without delay.

If you have any questions about this article or wish to make a power of attorney, please get in touch with a member of the Private Client team.

About the author

Tracy Ashby

Senior Associate Solicitor

Since qualification as a solicitor in 2005, Tracy has gained a vast amount of knowledge and experience in all private client related issues. Advising on care fee funding and protecting vulnerable clients is her particular area of expertise.

Tracy Ashby

Since qualification as a solicitor in 2005, Tracy has gained a vast amount of knowledge and experience in all private client related issues. Advising on care fee funding and protecting vulnerable clients is her particular area of expertise.

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