Understanding joint and several Power of Attorney
Lasting Power of Attorney protects yourself and your loved ones if you expect to lose mental capacity. When you have multiple attorneys though, the differences between joint and joint and several Power of Attorney are important to understand.
Because handing over the right to make these important decisions – having someone who will make sure you pay rent or bills, collect on debts, manage investments, or ensure your health and well-being are provided for – can be a serious weight off your mind.
But if you have more than one attorney, how will they make decisions?
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal right that comes in the form of a legal document. It gives one person (the attorney) the right to make decisions on behalf of another (the donor) who is unable or unwilling to make decisions for themselves.
There are several different types of Power of Attorney. Ordinary Power is temporary, usually only lasting during an extended period of illness or when a donor is outside of the country, for example.
Lasting Power of Attorney is designed to come into effect when someone loses mental capacity and is unlikely to regain it. There are two types of LPA too. One covers financial affairs and property. The other covers medical matters and care.
How Many Attorneys Can You Have?
Technically speaking, there isn’t a limit on the number of attorneys you can have in the UK. It can be smart to have more than one, just in case something prevents your first attorney from acting.
However, it is very unusual for someone to have more than four attorneys. Even four can be difficult to coordinate and track the decisions of, should it prove necessary.
What are jointly and joint and several Power of Attorney?
If you have more than one attorney, you can decide how they make decisions together. This is laid out under a number of different formats:
- Jointly and severally
- A mix of both
What is a joint Power of Attorney?
If you give a small group of people joint (sometimes written “jointly”) Lasting Power of Attorney, they all need to agree on a course of action before a decision is made and all need to sign any given bit of paperwork.
Why is joint Power of Attorney good?
If you’re not completely confident that all of your attorneys will make sensible decisions that are in your interest, this ensures none of them can act without the rest agreeing.
Why can joint Power of Attorney be bad?
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “democracy is the best form of government except for all the others”, you’ll understand why joint Power of Attorney can be problematic.
If every attorney needs to agree before something happens, it only takes one hold-out or dissenter before nothing happens. Equally, because everyone needs to sign every bit of paperwork, even routine bill payment can get bogged down.
One final point on replacement attorneys. If you were to lose one of your attorneys (either because they passed away or resigned), you will need a replacement. These need to be designated in advance because the gap needs to be filled before more decisions can be made.
What Is Jointly And Severally Power of Attorney?
With joint and several Power of Attorney, your attorneys can make decisions jointly (together) or severally (independently).
Why is jointly and severally Power of Attorney good?
Joint and several Power of Attorney is a flexible way to operate. It allows your attorneys to make decisions when they need to be made without waiting around. It also ensures individual attorneys can contribute when and where they can and let the others fill in the gaps.
Plus, if one of your attorneys passes away or resigns, it’s much less of a problem. The others can continue without any issues.
Why can jointly and severally Power of Attorney be bad?
The downside of this is that if one attorney is making decisions that the others think are wrong, they cannot be stopped very easily.
Of course, in theory, you would only ever choose people you trust implicitly to have this kind of power. But it’s not completely unheard of for problems to arise.
Choosing A Mix Of Joint And Jointly And Severally
This is just what it sounds like. You select certain types of decisions – for example, buying or selling property – as requiring all your attorneys to jointly agree. Others – for instance, routine bill payments – can be handled jointly and severally.
Why is a mix of joint and jointly and severally Power of Attorney good?
The major upside of this is that day-to-day tasks can proceed smoothly without unnecessarily requiring the attention and agreement of all your attorneys. At the same time, you ensure the big decisions require everyone to agree, thus protecting yourself.
Why can a mix of joint and jointly and severally Power of Attorney be bad?
Of course, this kind of setup is much more complicated to arrange. You’ll definitely want to use a legal professional like a solicitor (admittedly, this is a smart plan when setting up Powers of Attorney anyway).
Apart from this, the individual decisions you assign to the different types of decision-making process – jointly or jointly and severally – have the same pros and cons listed above.
Making The Right Decision About Lasting Power of Attorney Decisions
As always, the best approach is to ask your Lasting Power of Attorney solicitor for advice as to how to set things in the way that makes you feel safe and protected.
Understanding the differences between joint and joint and several Power of Attorney is their job. Call on their experience to make sure your wishes will be acted on.
Trust the same Power of Attorney solicitors that residents of Shotton, Connah’s Quay, Queensferry, Ewloe, Hawarden and Buckley have relied on for the past 100 years – E.A. Harris.
Set up a commitment-free chat with one of our helpful and approachable experts today.