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15th July 2019

Beecham: Who Gives the Orders Now?

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John is betrayed and in trouble; unable to run his business, or home, who will do it for him? Would it have helped to have a Lasting Power of Attorney? In the absence of John being able to sign, there will be problems with his business, although his servants seem unconcerned by an absence of money to pay their wages or buy the household’s food (well it is fiction). In his case, there are also servants and guards arguing over “who gives the orders in this house” – with a love interest bringing out the strength of the quiet factotum. Meanwhile one of the sahibs reassures the family and household by saying “I’m here in his stead”. Fine words – but how would it work?

In those days, for a short period, lowly tradesmen would accept promises – an Englishman’s word. It isn’t like that nowadays. However, there is also a solution nowadays that wasn’t available then. A Property & Financial Lasting Power of Attorney (PF LPA) is a document which would enable John to choose one or more people as his Attorney and give them power to sign on his behalf. They need his instructions while he is mentally capable, because it doesn’t take any power away from John, but if he loses mental capacity then they can act on their own initiative.

It is an incredibly useful form of “insurance” to have in place “just in case”. Of course for most people an accident, illness, or even travel disrupted by an Icelandic volcano, is a more likely reason to need to be prepared than the risk of falling foul of a zealous French Captain – although in John’s case perhaps he could have foreseen that need.

The PF LPA needs carefully thought through clauses to work best and also people you can trust as Attorney. Often this will be your nearest and dearest or maybe long term friends, or even a professional. In John’s case would he realise who can be trusted? At the end of this episode it started to look as though, finally, he might see the light – we’ll know next week. Fortunately, for most of us, life is not quite as complicated as John’s and it is easier to know who to trust - so it’s more a question of “getting round to it” in time.

If you would like more information on LPAs please read our guidance note or contact Carolyn Bagley on 01908 247015 or click here to email Carolyn. Alternatively you can also contact one Carolyn's colleagues below.

Francesca Rossi on 020 7400 5037 or click here to email Francesca.
Alexandra Svennevik on 01604 463342 or click here to email Alexandra.
Elizabeth Herbert on 01223 447495 or click here to email Elizabeth.