Top tips for acting as an attorney during COVID-19

Attorneys and deputies manage the affairs for someone else, often when they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs. An attorney is appointed by the person themselves, whereas a deputy is appointed by the court.  

For many attorneys, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused them to take up their appointment for the first time under a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney.

Attorneys have a legal responsibility to carry out their duties and ensure that any decisions made are in the best interests of the donor.

Our top tips: 

  1. How you have been appointed as an attorney - Check the lasting power of attorney (LPA) to see how you have been appointed as an attorney – solely, jointly, jointly and severally etc. Each option is different and so it is important that you and your co-attorneys know how you have been appointed.
  2. When you can begin your role - Check to see whether you can begin your role as soon as the LPA has been registered, or only if the donor has lost mental capacity.
  3. Expenditure - Maintain accurate records of expenditure. Ensure itemised receipts are kept, when making purchases for the donor.
  4. Bank account - Before you can access a donor’s bank account, you must show the donor’s bank either the original registered LPA or a certified copy of it. Without doing so, you do not have the relevant authority to access the donor’s bank accounts.
  5. Claiming expenses as an attorney - Whilst a donor has mental capacity, the attorney should invoice the donor for any expenses incurred (for example, travel expenses) before reimbursing themselves.
  6. Mental capacity - If the donor has capacity, then you should consult and involve the donor about any decisions that need to be made.
  7. Making or updating a will - If the donor needs to make a will or update their will and they do not have the mental capacity to do so, you can apply to the court to make a statutory will.
  8. Property - You will need to seek independent legal advice if you intend to sell the donor’s house below the market value or if you intend to buy the property yourself.
  9. Gifts or charitable donations - You must ensure that the donor can afford to make any gifts or charitable donations, even if they have made the same value of gifts in previous years.

If you would like further advice on how to carry out your role as an attorney during COVID-19, then Birkett Long will be by your side if you need any specialist lasting power of attorney guidance.  

I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217609 or leah.woodnott@birkettlong.co.uk.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.