Your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is an important document. It gives your chosen attorney the power to deal with your affairs on your behalf, should you lose the capacity to do so yourself. But is it a good idea to appoint your children?
You can make an LPA giving someone the power to deal with your property and financial affairs and also an LPA in respect of your health and welfare.
Each LPA can have up to four attorneys. They can be required to act altogether, so that they all have to approve each decision that is made on your behalf, or you can give them each the power to make a decision on their own.
You can also appoint a substitute attorney, should your first choice be unable to act when the time comes.
Who should I choose as my attorney?
People often choose their spouse in the first instance, with children as their second choice.
You can also choose a close and trusted friend or other relatives. If you do not have anyone to take on the role, it is also possible to appoint a professional attorney.
Whoever you choose, you should discuss the appointment with them, to ensure that they are happy to take it on.
Choosing your children as your attorneys
If you decide to appoint your children, you should consider whether you believe they will cope with the role.
If you appoint more than one, then you will also need to decide whether you want them each to have the power to make a decision unilaterally, or whether you want them all to agree on a decision before it can be taken.
Clearly, it will be important to take into account how well your children get along together. It may be better to just appoint one of them to act alone.
The job can be time-consuming and also require some financial acuity. It may be that one of your children is more suited to the role than another, simply because they have more time available or are more familiar with administrative tasks.
Talking about the future
As well as discussing the appointment with your potential attorneys, you should also give them some guidance as to how you would like your affairs dealt with.
This can be particularly important in respect of a health and welfare LPA, where your attorney will be making decisions about where you live, your day-to-day living, and your medical care. You can leave guidance about whether or not you want to receive life-sustaining treatment, should the time come, but it is often good to have a conversation with your family and your attorney in advance so that they understand your wishes.
Putting an LPA in place can give you the peace of mind of knowing that a trusted attorney will step in should you become unable to manage your own affairs. It will also make matters easier for your family, who would otherwise have to make an application to the court for the power to act on your behalf.