What are the different ways in which I can appoint Attorneys?
There are a number of options to consider when you have decided to appoint more than one attorney on your LPA. The main three options are:
- Jointly and Severally
- Jointly on some and Jointly and Severally on others
Many clients start with the assumption that appointing their attorneys jointly is best as it feels fair and right, particularly where it is their children as they'd like them to work with each other. The danger with Jointly is that it literally means "all or nothing" and the best way to see how this is a problem is to look at an example. Lets say you have three children who you appoint as attorneys and appoint jointly, since setting it up one has moved to Australia. The other two children live fairly close and are on hand to help you with a task when needed. Lets say the task was to sell the house because you have lost capacity, being appointed jointly, the only way this can be done is if all attorneys make that decision together. In this example it would perhaps involve the child in Australia flying home to sign the forms and be present for the necessary processes. At worst it would significantly slow things down by having to use international post. What about smaller jobs? Are they going to come all the way back from Australia for one decision? This would be very unlikely and mean that the LPA is effectively useless.
Perhaps even more worrying is if one of the your attorneys became very unwell and can't be present for a decision, again nothing could be done by the other two. What if the absolute worst happens and one of the three passes away? In any of those situations, obviously, a three-way joint decision would be impossible and so the LPA becomes redundant.
You could be forgiven for wondering if one person is unwell or have passed away, couldn't you just knock them off the list of attorneys? Sadly that isn't possible with LPAs where attorneys are appointed jointly, to reiterate it really is all or nothing.
Jointly and Severally
The main alternative is "jointly and severally" which is without a doubt my preferred one. I always advise my clients to go for jointly and severally unless there's a really specific reason they should go for jointly.
Jointly and severally is pretty much as it sounds. Your attorneys can act together or apart so if only one is available its absolutely fine and things can keep moving. To use the above example with one of the children in Australia and lets say one is unwell in hospital, the one remaining attorney will still be able to make whatever decisions are necessary. I believe therefore that jointly and severally is by far the most sensible and flexible option.
Jointly on some decisions and Jointly & Severally on others
The final options is an amalgamation of the first two and so is pretty much self explanatory. It might be just the odd area where you wish for your Attorneys to be joint, for example decisions on any assets worth over £10k. Again though any area where you're appointing the attorneys jointly will opening yourself up to the risks mentioned above.