Who can be your attorney?
An attorney is a person who is allowed to act on behalf of someone.
Anyone with mental capacity and aged 18 or above can be your attorney. This can include your spouse, civil partner or partner, a family member, close friend, other people that you trust (with no legal background), or a professional, such as a solicitor. An important consideration is that your attorney respects your views, will act in your best interests and that you know each other well.
You should not feel obliged to choose someone as your attorney because you do not want to offend them. If you want to involve them, you could instead choose them to be a ‘person to notify’.
Difference between joint and several and joint appointment of your attorneys
If you have chosen two or more attorneys, then you must state how they can make decisions on your behalf. This can be jointly and severally, jointly, or jointly for some decisions, jointly and severally for other decisions.
With a joint and several attorney, they can make decisions on their own or together. One safeguard to this is that they must always act in your best interests. Most people decide to appoint their attorneys on this basis because it is the most practical and flexible way for them to make decisions on your behalf.
With a joint appointment, your attorneys must make every single decision together. All decisions are to be agreed unanimously and they must all sign any relevant documents. If one of your attorneys appointed on a joint basis cannot act or dies, your Lasting Power of Attorney will stop working, unless you have appointed replacement attorneys. This is because attorneys appointed jointly are treated as a single unit.
If your attorneys live far apart, acting jointly may be impractical, for example, all going to the bank together.
Three top tips:
- Appoint people who will work well together and consult each other, even if the appointment is joint and several.
- If you own property jointly with your spouse or civil partner, for example, you should appoint another attorney.
- Try and avoid a joint appointment, where possible, as your attorneys should be working in your best interests, even on a joint and several basis.