One would not think that an elderly affectionate Dalmatian would feature in the professional life of a Senior Partner in a Law Firm, yet Basil* a much treasured example of the breed, is staying with Outi Hubbard (our senior partner) for six weeks under the terms of a Power of Attorney. More about Basil later.

Outi Hubbard’s substantial experience as a wills and probate expert is the backbone of her practice: to this she has added acting as the Attorney of clients and on occasions as a Deputy. We as a society are living longer, consequently care of an increasingly aging population presents both practical and legal issues for those who have responsibilities as carers, whether because of family ties or, in Outi’s case, for professional reasons.

Deputyship

One of the sad consequences of old age may be the loss of mental capacity to such a degree that the person concerned is unable to look after their affairs. Any decision on the degree of a person’s mental incapacity is obviously a medical one.

If a person has lost his or her mental capacity, and has not made an Enduring Power of Attorney (pre 2007) or a Lasting Power of Attorney (post 2007), one of the ways of dealing with this situation is to appoint a Deputy to administer the incapacitated person’s affairs. The Court of Protection makes the appointment of a Deputy and directs that the Deputy makes regular reports to the Office of the Public Guardian to ensure that the Deputy’s duties are being carried out properly. At the present time Outi Hubbard acts as a Deputy for several clients and makes decisions for the clients about their property.

Powers of Attorney

There are two types of appointment of an Attorney, Ordinary and Lasting. The person appointing their Attorney (whether an Ordinary or Lasting appointment) must have mental capacity at the time of making the appointment. The difference between an ordinary and lasting power is that in the latter case, the appointment continues even if the Donor of the power subsequently loses their mental capacity. There are two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney: one deals with Property and Affairs and the other one with Health and Welfare decisions. The Attorney’s powers can be limited whereby the Attorney is only authorized to carry out certain functions, for example dealing with financial matters, but not property.

Outi Hubbard’s temporary care of Basil is due to her relationship with a long standing client of the firm for whom she is appointed as an Attorney. The elderly Dalmatian has adapted well to being a temporary member of the Hubbard household. Outi will remember her canine house guest as a memorable interlude in her working life which usually carries more orthodox responsibilities.

*Basil is an assumed name to protect client confidentiality


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