Who to appoint as your Power of Attorney is a question that often causes concern. For those with close family the answer may appear to be very obvious. After all, most of us would first choose our spouse to take over the reins if we found ourselves unable to manage our own affairs. This might be very sensible in the first instance, but in a lot of cases a husband or wife will be of a similar age to their spouse and may also be at risk of becoming unable to cope, just when they might be needed to step up to the plate. In addition, the stress of dealing with a loved one who is suffering from, for example, dementia has been shown to be almost as stressful as bereavement. The prospect of taking over the running of all of the financial and other affairs might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Equally children may be a very good choice, but there are occasions when they are not all suitable. One has to do be realistic and look at children in a dispassionate way. Will they be able to do the job?
As we have mentioned previously the burden of being another person’s Attorney is by no means small. It is also the case that an Attorney, regardless of the closeness of their relationship with the person appointing them, will be expected to understand their duties and carry out their obligations in accordance with the law. The number of Court cases involving Attorneys is undoubtedly on the rise and we expect this trend to continue.
Don’t leave your affairs to chance
In considering who to appoint as your Power of Attorney we would suggest that at the very least you think about: –
The age of the person or people who you are contemplating appointing. They may be up to the job now, but how likely is it that they will be when you need them most.
Are they good at managing their own affairs? Do they come across as organised, sensible people with an understanding of the financial world? Of course, we are not suggesting that they necessarily have to be professionals, but a basic understanding of how the financial world works is essential. After all, at some point they may have control of everything that you have worked for!
It may seem an obvious question, but are they trustworthy? Sadly, there have been a number of cases recently where Attorneys have used their position to benefit themselves financially. If you are contemplating appointing a Professional (or someone who claims to be a Professional) then we would recommend that you check that they are regulated by a Professional Body, carry mandatory professional indemnity insurance and that the relevant Professional Body has a Complaints and Compensation Scheme that can be used if something should go wrong.
Does the person concerned have the time to devote to their duties? You may have a relative or friend who is highly qualified and seems to be an obvious choice. However, if they are too busy to look after your affairs properly their expertise may prove to be of no benefit to you.
Are they geographically convenient? Nowadays families are spread far and wide. With digital means of communication distances may appear to have shrunk but conducting the affairs of someone else from a distance is far from easy. It is one thing to have a conversation about everyday matters, whether spoken or written, over the internet, but it is a quite another to try to run someone else’s affairs from another country and, possibly, another time zone.
If you are appointing more than one Attorney, will they get on and work together? It is a nice thought that estranged family members may one day overcome their differences, or perhaps even that acting together as your Attorney may prompt such a reconciliation. Unfortunately the truth maybe Attorneys who are at loggerheads, squabbling over every decision and more interested in scoring points against one another than managing your affairs properly.
These questions are by no means the only ones that you should ask. Making the decision to make a Lasting Power of Attorney is always a good one. Whether the decision as to who to appoint as your Power of Attorney will prove equally as wise may well depend upon the thought you have put in to it.