Lasting Powers of Attorney are an essential wealth management tool for anyone who directly holds UK assets and can name at least someone whom they trust to take decisions on their behalf. They are often made by individuals concerned about who would continue to make decisions about their finances or their health and welfare if they ever lost capacity to do so themselves. They are increasingly popular – registrations of Lasting Powers topped 533,000 in the year to end March 2016; a 35% increase from the previous year. The increasing number of registrations indicates that there are more Lasting Powers in circulation.
Many clients want to appoint more than one attorney. The Lasting Power of Attorney legislation permits the appointment of both attorneys and replacement attorneys, the latter acting as substitutes. Joint attorneyships are not uncommon. Take the situation of an individual – James – who wants to appoint his wife Amy and his brother Bill as his attorneys, to act jointly in relation to his finances. His lawyer tells him that it would be prudent to name a replacement attorney too and he chooses his son Christopher. But his son is still in his twenties and, if either Amy or Bill or both were able to act, he would like them to do so in preference to Christopher. This simple sounding request has had English law in knots for a while.