Residential property
07 Jun 2019 News

Dementia Awareness Week: 5 tips on being a good Attorney

As part of Dementia Awareness Week, we’ve created a helpful blog series, focusing on the questions which may arise when you or a loved one receives a diagnosis like dementia. For some people, this will include using a Power of Attorney.

Acting as an Attorney on behalf of someone else, whether it be for financial or welfare matters, is a big commitment and it is important that you are aware of the responsibility that is being placed on you.

The law sets out five principles which should be considered by an attorney when making decisions. These principles are:

  • Any action or decision taken must benefit the person;
  • Any action or decision taken should be the minimum necessary to achieve the purpose;
  • Any action must take account the past or present wishes and feelings of that person;
  • Take account of the views of others with an interest in the person; and
  • Encourage the person to use existing skills and develop new skills

All of the principles are of equal importance. To help with being a good Attorney, we have put together our top 5 tips:

  1. Speak to the person you are going to be an Attorney for whilst they have capacity to chat through their wishes e.g. regarding care, investments etc. Often these can be difficult conversations to have, but they can be crucial in helping you decide what to do if they ever lose capacity.
  2. If you are acting as Attorney seek views, not only from that person but from the people who are close to them (e.g. family members, carers, friends, other Attorneys etc.). The people closest to them can often offer a valuable insight into what the individual would want.
  3. Be organised. Good record keeping is an essential part of being an Attorney. Keep a record of all financial transactions (receipts etc) and you should have a good overall understanding of the person’s financial affairs. It is also important to narrate why any decisions were made. For example, the adult had previously expressed their view while they had capacity.
  4. Understand what you can do - each Power of Attorney will differ and you will only have the powers detailed in the document. Some of the powers you have granted may only be used when the Granter does not have capacity. It is important to understand your remit.
  5. Know when to seek help. The Office of the Public Guardian provides good guidance for Attorneys. Legal advice can also be taken where required if - for example – an Attorney is unsure if they have the power to take a decision.

For more information in relation to being an Attorney, please get in touch with our Private Client Team.

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