Things to consider if you don’t have a family member or friend who you’d like to appoint to look after your finances if you aren’t able to.
‘I want to arrange my finances for when my dementia means I’m not able to deal with them, but I don’t have anyone I could appoint through a lasting power of attorney.’
In England and Wales, a lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document appointing someone to look after your finances if you aren’t able to do that in future (you can also create an LPA for health and care decisions). In Northern Ireland you can set up an enduring power of attorney instead, but only for finances.
Most people appoint a trusted family member or friend as their attorney. However, not everyone has someone suitable and willing to do this, or you might want to appoint someone who isn’t involved in family disagreements.
It’s possible to appoint a ‘professional attorney’, who would expect to be paid a fee. This would normally be a solicitor, accountant or financial adviser.
You could also appoint a professional attorney to act together with a family member, or to only take the role on if your first choice isn’t able to.
A professional attorney can charge for their time as well as for expenses, whereas a family member or friend can only claim for expenses. The law also sets higher standards for how professional attorneys behave.
Who to pick?
It’s important that you trust whoever you choose, as you are agreeing to give them control over your money and property.
You may have a solicitor, accountant or financial adviser who already knows you well, but you can choose someone new if you prefer.
It’s a good idea to meet them – at least once – to see what they’re like, and to allow them to get to know you and understand what is important to you.
You could also ask about their skills and any experience they have of acting as an attorney.
Appointing a professional attorney is a big financial commitment. You should ask for detailed information about costs.
Appointing a professional attorney is a big financial commitment. You should ask for detailed information about costs, which could include examples of typical fees in different scenarios. Bear in mind that their rates may change over time.
Don’t hold back – ask as many questions about fees as you need to in order to feel comfortable about what you are committing to pay.