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Power of Attorney – Peace of mind or Power Struggle?

Lasting Powers of Attorney are recognised as an essential component of any later life planning arrangements but there is both real and anecdotal evidence indicating that Lasting Powers of Attorney can be the focus of family power struggles.

There is nothing new in sibling rivalry and there will always be examples of children accusing each other of selfish motives in relation to the care of an elderly parent. When family wealth is thought to be at stake it can put a serious strain on even the most well balanced family.

So is there anything a parent should do when considering making a Lasting Power of Attorney to reduce the risk of a future family skirmish?

Firstly, if you are the one granting the LPA it is really important to understand that it is about you and not about them. The purpose behind giving a power of attorney is to protect you and enable decisions to be made that are in your best interests.

It is also important to have a clear understanding of what the attorney’s role is going to be and what the extent of their authority is to be. If you don’t want them to have authority in all circumstances over everything – don’t give it to them, even if they say it will make things more difficult for them if you don’t. If they really need additional powers in the future they can apply for them later.

If you think you have to appoint all the children to be attorneys to avoid in-fighting then perhaps you should think twice before appointing any of them. You will need impartial, well formed judgements to be made by your attorneys and if they are emotionally locked into an “It isn’t fair.” mentality the children might not be capable of making those kinds of judgements.

Finally, take professional advice. It might be easier and cheaper just to download the form from the web but failing to make the right set of choices and appoint the right individuals will have far reaching and long lasting consequences for you and your family. Receiving impartial advice from experienced and qualified professionals will enable you to lay down the ground rules and avoid pitfalls.

Barker Evans Private Client Law offers a range of services relating to mental incapacity and disability issues.