General Powers of Attorney in the lockdown
Why you should consider having a GPA during the coronavirus lockdown
If you are self-isolating or housebound but need someone to go out and about on your behalf to manage your property and affairs, a General Power of Attorney (GPA) could be a useful document to have in place.
A GPA can be put in place much more quickly than a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This is because it doesn’t need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, a process that can take between 6 -10 weeks. It is also a much shorter document.
What is a GPA?
It is a document that enables a person, the “Donor” to delegate authority to a trusted individual, the “Attorney” to manage the Donor’s property and affairs.
What is a GPA used for and what is its scope?
- A GPA is only valid while the Donor has mental capacity and ceases to work if s/he loses capacity. If you become too ill to make your own decisions, it is not as valuable as an LPA.
- The Donor and Attorneys must be over 18 and not bankrupt.
- It can only be used for property and affairs not health and welfare decisions.
- It cannot be used to make a Will for the Donor or decisions about marriage.
- The Donor grants the power to the Attorney either for a specified or an unlimited time.
- He can make the power specific to one task only or for all financial transactions.
- The Donor is legally liable for the actions of the Attorney on his/her behalf.
- The Attorney must act with utmost good faith to the Donor, keep meticulous records and not mix the Donor’s money with his own.
- If the Donor or the Attorney lose mental capacity or go bankrupt, the GPA will cease.
How do you set up a GPA?
- Appoint one or more Attorneys.
- Check that they understand the scope of their authority, responsibilities and agree to act for you.
- If you appoint them to take decisions “jointly”, they must agree with each other on all decisions.
- If you appoint them to take decisions “jointly and severally,” one can take a decision without the agreement of the other/s.
- Specify that the GPA will only last for a set period for example, “during the current Covid-19 lockdown,” or for a particular task such as a house sale/purchase or sale of stocks and shares.
- The GPA document sets out that the Donor nominates the Attorney/s to act on his or her behalf and is signed and witnessed as a Deed with two witnesses.
- Send a copy to the bank, fund manager or other professional with whom you want the Attorney/s to work.
- It is a good idea for the Donor to notify the professionals directly before the Attorneys use the GPA.
I’ve changed my mind – how do I revoke it?
- It can be revoked at any time by the Donor.
- It is best to revoke it in writing and notify all Attorneys and the people with whom they have been dealing, such as fund managers or bank personnel.
How much will it cost?
- Depending upon complexity – from £75 to £200.