Q. My 83-year old mother is looking to enter into an Enduring Power of Attorney, appointing her three adult offspring, jointly or jointly and severally. What are the pros and cons, ramifications of each?
A.We’ve asked one of our legal contacts to comment on your question. Here’s their reply…
In very simple terms, if you appoint more than one person to act as your Attorney they can be appointed jointly or jointly and severally. If they are appointed jointly, then this will mean that they all need to act unanimously at all times (for example all signing cheques). Obviously this can be administratively inconvenient especially if one of the Attorneys is, for example, ill or away on holiday. Also, should one of the Attorneys die or become bankrupt, then the whole document would come to an end. If at that time you were still mentally capable then you would simply appoint new attorneys. However, if at that time you were not mentally capable then as your EPA would be invalidated, your relatives would have to apply to the Court of Protection to become your Receiver which is a long expensive and inconvenient process.
If you appoint Attorneys jointly and severally, this will mean that any one of them will be able to act on his or her own and should one of them die or become bankrupt the remaining Attorneys’ power to act continues. For this reason we would usually recommend the joint and several appointment of attorneys.
If however a client were not happy with an either or approach, the attorneys could be appointed jointly and severally with their powers being restricted so that over a certain amount they would have to act jointly. The disadvantages to this are as set out above in that if something were to happen to one of the attorneys, the surviving attorneys would have no authority to deal with assets over a certain value.