Whether you’re in the process of creating a lasting power of attorney with a loved one or have just started acting as a court appointed deputy, here are some useful tips and ideas on how to make sure you’re acting in the best way possible.
We asked two members of staff, Jackie and Trudy who have first-hand experiences acting as an attorney, to give us their top tips.
First steps to take
1. Understand how you’re expected to act.
Visit the key principles in Section 8 of the LPA, and look up Chapter 7 of the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice.
2. Get certified copies.
You may need to post the LPA to banks, utility companies or other third parties. Making multiple copies will mean you don’t have to wait for it to return before sending to the next one.
You can do this yourself if the donor still has capacity. You can find the suggested wording to create certified copies on our website or you can ask a solicitor, or a person authorised to create certified copies, usually a notary, but this may come with a fee.
You may be able to use the new online service for sharing LPA details, you can find out more about this in our ‘Use a Lasting power of attorney online service podcast’ and blog post.
3. Know where to find important documents.
You may need access to any advance decisions made in a health and welfare capacity, or to any important financial documents for finance and property such as house deeds or where to find savings accounts.
4. Know your instructions and preferences.
Find out what they are, if there are any, or have conversations on decisions such as life sustaining treatments, care homes, selling property, investments and giving gifts.
Tips on acting as a finance and property attorney
1. Get some folders prepared with the financial documents you have for the donor so you know where they are when they’re needed.
2. Set up monthly bank statements to be posted, making sure you keep receipts for things you buy.
3. For deputies, you’ll be asked to fill in an annual report so keep track of things you buy as this will make things easier for you.
Example of acting in the donors best interests financially
Something attorneys or deputies may not consider is when you’re acting in the best interests of the donor, you need to make sure they are not financially worse off by the decisions made.
Here’s an example of this. Tony is the donor and his nephew, Damien, is his attorney.
Tony has fluctuating capacity, isn’t great with technology and struggles to get out due to arthritis. His TV breaks and calls Damien to see if he can fix it.
Damien realises the TV can’t be fixed but he has the exact same TV at home and has been wanting to get a new one for a while. He talks to Tony and they decide it’s in Tony’s best interest to have Damien’s TV since he already knows how it works.
Now, Damien needs a new TV as he gave his away. Tony agrees Damien can use some of his money to buy himself a new one as he would have spent that money anyway. Damien gets himself a TV which is worth £100 pounds more than the one he gave Tony.
In this instance, Damien should pay the £100 difference between the value of the TV he gave Tony and the one he purchased.
Tips on acting as a health and welfare attorney
1. Keep a diary or notes of the health of the donor
2. Show how you have made the least restrictive decisions
Example of acting as a health and welfare attorney
This example is based on Trudy’s own experiences.
Some relatives thought it was unsafe for Trudy’s Mum to be cared for at home. However, her Mum had always said she wanted to stay in her home as long as possible and never wanted to live with Trudy.
Trudy therefore needed to keep her Mum’s wishes in mind, be the least restrictive possible, and think about her Mum’s future. The family made changes to her Mum’s home and arranged for home care packages until all options had been exhausted to keep Trudy’s Mum at home.
The diary Trudy kept enabled her to prove it was time to move her Mum to a care-home.
The different ways you can act with other attorneys
- ‘Jointly’ - All attorneys must agree decisions and sign any relevant documents.
- ‘Jointly and severally’ - this means you can make decisions together, or independently
- Jointly for some and severally for others - The LPA may tell you to make some decisions ‘jointly’ and others ‘jointly and severally’ and state which decisions should be made jointly and which should be made jointly and severally.
Acting as a sole attorney or deputy.
You cannot ask anyone who is not appointed as an attorney to make decisions for the donor.
However, you can ask for help with any tasks, for example, you might want to ask someone to run an errand for the donor etc. You can read more about this in an earlier blog including what happens if you step down as an attorney or deputy.
We hope you found this useful and have a better understanding of where to start as an attorney or deputy. These are just some things to consider when you start and where possible, you should discuss aspects of your role with the donor and include them as much as possible in any decisions made.
If you’d like to know more about acting as an attorney or deputy, comment below and we’ll look into creating further blogs about this in the future.