The Responsibilities of Power of Attorney
Becoming a person’s Attorney – should they become incapacitated in the future – is a responsibility that few relish, but it is an opportunity to serve a person and ensure that they receive the best possible care and support. All Attorneys or Deputies have obligations that are formalised under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and its Code of Practice. It is important that you gain a thorough understanding of the rights and responsibilities that this encapsulates.
Being someone’s legal representative gives you a primary duty: to act in the best interests of the individual for whom you are responsible. This can involve, for example (and depending on the situation) considering their basic and personal needs and wishes, managing their finances, and making decisions on their behalf to the extent possible within your power.
Depending on how the Power of Attorney has been drafted, there may be some restrictions on your powers. It is therefore important to read and understand the authority you have been given. You will also need to undertake various tasks such as ensuring that utility companies, creditors, and banks are aware that you are involved with the person as an Attorney. You will also need to ensure that you are claiming any benefits that are available. Costs around payment for care will also need to be considered.
Every Attorney will have limits on their authority. For example, small gifts can be purchased by you on their behalf, but any bigger gifts will need to be approved by the Court – just as the sale of any co-owned property would.
If the person who you have Power of Attorney for does not have a will in place, this can be problematic and you may therefore wish to apply to the Court of Protection for the authority to create a statutory will. You may also need to apply to the Court for authority to make gifts or to enter into an unusual property transaction.
Organising the finances, needs, and wishes of another person can be a complicated area which is why we offer support for Attorneys, Deputies, and those they care for. Get in touch with one of our legal experts who can advise you.