Choosing an Attorney can be one of the most important decisions you make. At some stage in our lives, we will all be in the position of not being able to communicate decisions on our own behalf. It is crucial that we all give some thought to this scenario, even if we are currently upwardly mobile and have total capacity. The best way to protect yourself and your property is to appoint someone you trust to be your Attorney. The person or persons you appoint will have authority to look after your personal care and welfare and property affairs should you lose capacity to make or communicate decisions yourself.
One of the big questions is “Who do you choose to act on your behalf?” Obviously you need to be confident that you can trust them completely, that they will act in your best interests and, most importantly, that they have the necessary skills for managing your affairs.
So who do you choose for the job? A lot of couples firstly appoint each other as Attorney, as they trust their partner who is generally familiar with how your affairs should be dealt with. However, what happens if your partner also loses capacity or they pass away ahead of you? That is when the appointment of a Successor Attorney comes into play.
For personal care and welfare, ideally you would want to choose someone who is close to you, who understands your day to day needs and someone you communicate with well and is compassionate to your needs and wellbeing. Preferably, someone who is familiar with your intentions should you need to go into care or become unwell.
For property, there are generally financial and property matters that will need to be handled so it is important that you chose someone familiar with, or capable of taking these matters on.
It may be that you have a very capable son or daughter who, for example, is an accountant, but they may have absolutely no idea or close connection with you in regards to your day to day needs. However, they may make a wonderful Property Attorney!
Equally, you may have the most amazing daughter who visits you regularly and helps you with Drs visits and other day to day personal tasks but they may in fact be hopeless with their own financial affairs. It really pays to think about this carefully and make sure that you “have your ducks lined up” and also make sure you check with the person or persons you want to appoint to ensure that they agree to their appointment!