What is a Joint or Reserve Attorney?

Dec 8, 2017

It is difficult for any individual to imagine a time in their life when normal, day-to-day decisions are beyond them. But that is the reality for many people.

The loss of mental capacity, whether through illness or an accident, is not only devastating for the person of the centre at this, but for their family and friends, too. And as lawyers specialising in helping people and those around them deal with these types of issues, we see the practical as well as emotional challenges that this creates. Simple things like managing personal finances and health can be a real challenge.

That is why we recommend that every adult make a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a legal document made by a person while they are of sound mind. It appoints one or more trusted people (a husband, wife, brother, sister, friend, for example) to take care of certain affairs in the event that mental capacity is lost at any stage in life. These people are called attorneys.

You can specify that your attorneys (we usually recommend appointing more than one) should make decisions about your property and financial affairs, and your health and welfare jointly, or jointly and severally. We tend to prefer the latter because it allows for a degree of flexibility; ‘jointly and severally’ means that decisions can be made by one attorney or the other, or by both.

Just as none of us is able to accurately predict the loss of our own mental capacity, there is no guarantee that an appointed attorney would not be in some way prevented from continuing to hold that position. That is why it is a good idea to appoint a reserve attorney who is able to take over in the event that an original attorney can no longer do what is needed under the Lasting Power of Attorney.

These are contingency measures that are actually very easy to put in place. It’s usually straightforward. And while the real benefit may not be felt until many years down the line (or not at all, if your mental health remains in good shape), a Lasting Power of Attorney brings peace of mind that everything will be taken care of if capacity becomes lost.  

To discuss a Power of Attorney, contact our Private Client Department, who will be more than happy to answer your questions.  Tel:  01264 353411, email: wills@bsandi.co.uk or fill in our no obligation, online enquiry form and we will be in touch shortly.



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