Business Law: Louise Cardwell on powers of attorney

Louise Cardwell of Ashton KCJ.

Louise Cardwell of Ashton KCJ. - Credit: Archant

None of us like to think that one day we may not be capable of dealing with our affairs. However, mental incapacity is something that can affect any of us and whilst for some it may be as a result of a degenerative illness, it could affect you without warning, perhaps as the result of an accident.

It will be much easier for your affairs to be dealt with if you have put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

A Property and Affairs LPA is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make decisions yourself, for example, if you lose mental capacity.

This type of LPA covers things like your bank accounts, investments and property. They are very powerful documents and great care should be taken to ensure that the right person is appointed to assist you when you need a bit more help.

When most people think of LPAs they think they will only apply to personal assets. LPAs can also be drafted to cover business assets and so it is advisable for all business owners to consider what they would like to happen to their business in the event of them losing mental capacity.

Who would pay the wages and invoices? Who would make the important decisions? A sudden and unforeseen inability to make decisions and effect transactions on behalf of your business could have a significant impact on your business’ finances.

A common concern, however, is that the person to whom you wish to grant a LPA to cover your personal assets would not be the same person whom you would appoint to run your business.

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This is not a problem as separate LPAs can be made to cover your personal assets and your business assets which can appoint different attorneys. This would enable you to appoint someone who is familiar with the business and understands the way in which the business operates.

There is in fact no limit on the number of LPAs that you can make. It is essential, however, to ensure that the scope of each LPA is clearly set out to avoid any confusion and to make sure that the LPAs compliment, rather than obstruct, each other. Careful thought, therefore, must be given and appropriate legal advice sought.

: : Louise Cardwell is a solicitor at regional law firm Ashton KCJ.

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