ZEDRA Estate Planning’s Charlotte Isherwood has provided a Lasting Power of Attorney Guide to outline what a Lasting Power of Attorney is and how it differs from the US ‘Conservatorship’.

The recent release of the documentary ‘Framing Britney Spears’ has put the role of an Attorney in focus. Britney Spears has been in the public eye for many years. However, Britney seemed to have ‘disappeared’ in recent years leading to a grassroots movement, known as the #FreeBritney campaign and  the documentary.

The documentary reviews Britney’s career, her life and her Conservatorship.

What is a Conservatorship?

A Conservatorship is a legal concept in the United States and is granted by a Court for individuals who are unable to manage their own affairs. According to the documentary, Britney has been under a Conservatorship, which allowed her father and a lawyer to manage her finances and make decisions for her.

The documentary confirms that the lawyer appointed stepped down, leaving Britney’s father the sole Conservator. Britney has apparently taken steps to remove her father from this role and indicated a preference for a bank, or other corporate, to be appointed instead.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

In the UK we do not have Conservatorships, however we do have two types of Lasting Power of Attorney.

Under a Lasting Power of Attorney, a person (“Donor”) can appoint others (“Attorneys”) to make decisions relating to their property and/or their health when they cannot. As we can see from the documentary about Britney, it is not always appropriate for an individual to manage someone’s affairs and it may be more beneficial to have a corporate appointed instead.

When a Lasting Power of Attorney is used, it is usually because the person it relates to is unable to make decisions for themselves, either long term or temporarily. This can place that person in a vulnerable position as the Attorney then makes decisions for them. Unfortunately, not everybody has friends or family that they would want to appoint to deal with their finances or make personal decisions about their welfare.

Being an Attorney for someone is not an easy task. Alongside always trying to make decisions in your best interests, there are also reporting requirements. As we can see from the Britney documentary, personal circumstances and relationships can also have an impact.

Why Appoint a Professional Lasting Power of Attorney?

One of the reasons for appointing a Professional Attorney, such as ZEDRA, for your Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney is that we are independent and are not influenced by family politics. In addition, the types of delays or even an inability to act which can arise when an Attorney is an individual would not occur if a Professional Attorney is appointed.  There would always be someone available to oversee your affairs.

In the UK, a Lasting Power of Attorney cannot be amended once it is registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. Therefore, if you no longer wish for your appointed Attorney to act, you would need to make a new LPA and this is not always possible. For this reason, and as demonstrated in the Britney Spears documentary, it is important that you choose your Attorney carefully.

If you would like to discuss anything contained in this Lasting Power of Attorney Guide, review an existing Lasting Power of Attorney or make new arrangements for a Property & Financial Affairs or Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney,  please contact us.