Lasting Powers of Attorney

Eve AustinQ: I am a businessman, married with young children. I have substantial personal assets that I want to preserve for my family. I have recently had a health scare and I’m concerned who’d manage my private and business affairs. I have adult children from my first marriage who are directors in the business but are abroad frequently.

A: Your situation requires a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), which means you appoint an attorney who’ll manage your financial affairs with legal authority and will do so should you lose mental capacity. It’s flexible and can be tailored to particular circumstances. Restrictions can be inserted limiting the attorney’s powers as to what assets they can manage or when their powers can be exercised.

Your wife should be appointed as an attorney, but her powers can be restricted to only dealing with personal bank accounts and assets in your name. If you don’t want a family member to deal with these, a professional can be appointed.

Your children could be attorneys in relation to business affairs. If the two of them are appointed ‘together and independently’ either one can make decisions so there’ll be no difficulty when one is unavailable. LPAs allow for guidance to be included so attorneys can be asked to refer to particular financial advisers or solicitors when making decisions.

As LPAs must be registered, all family members will be notified. Consequently, if they feel there are problems with the arrangements they can be resolved immediately.

If you don’t make an LPA and lose mental capacity, the Court of Protection will take over your affairs, appointing one member of your family to deal with all matters. A Court of Protection application is long winded, extremely expensive and stressful. You should also review your Will to minimise inheritance tax and look at a trust as a vehicle to preserve assets.

Eve Austin, solicitor in the Wills & Estate Planning department, Napthens.