Can you make a Power of Attorney online?

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It is possible to make a Power of Attorney online, but whether you should do so is an entirely different matter. The process of making a Power of Attorney seems straightforward but, for those who are unfamiliar with the process, there are many potential pitfalls which could result in you making the wrong type of Power of Attorney, or there being problems with the Power of Attorney being brought into effect or used. So, what are the common difficulties encountered when attempting to make a Power of Attorney online?

What type of Power of Attorney do I need?

There are a number of different types of Power of Attorney, but the only one that can be made now which remains in force in the event of your mental incapacity is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), and so when planning for the future it is an LPA that is needed. There are two different types of LPA: Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare. Many people take the view that they do not need a Health & Welfare LPA (which authorises someone to make medical and care decisions) yet with a little advice, it is almost invariably the case that the same people come to realise the significant benefits of having such an LPA in place.

How do I make LPAs online?

There are many ways to make LPAs online, whether that is by way of the “Do It Yourself” option using the Office of the Public Guardian’s online tool, or using one of the multitude of businesses that provide this service. Each option presents its own challenges, not least of which is the potential absence of any advice on the best structure and content of the LPAs. In essence, the creation of hugely important documents, which have far-reaching consequences, becomes a form-filling exercise.

Aside from the creation of the LPA itself, the other aspect for it to be valid is signing and witnessing it correctly, and specifically in the correct order, which is often easier said than done. Thereafter, the LPA needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it is valid.

Why use a solicitor to set up LPAs?

When you engage a solicitor to set up your LPAs, essential advice can be provided so that the LPAs are tailored to your needs and circumstances. Aside from the advice you would expect on choice of Attorneys, and what their duties and obligations are, advice can also be provided on such matters as the interaction between LPAs and jointly held assets, or investments that may not be accessible by Attorneys without special wording in the LPA, and other matters such as implications for “blended families” (that is, couples with separate children), tax-planning, foreign assets, and business interests. These are just some of the often overlooked points when people attempt to set up LPAs using an online service.

Receiving advice from a solicitor also helps ensure that all eventualities are covered and your wishes are carried out, and reduces the risk of the LPAs being challenged in the future, and gives the opportunity for advice on associated matters such as Wills.