People commonly appoint a family member as their attorney to manage their affairs, if they are not capable of doing so. A power of attorney is prepared that governs what an attorney is allowed to do and whether they are allowed to charge for their services. According to CurryPopeck Solicitors, unless the power of attorney documents say that the attorney is not allowed to receive compensation, they can pay themselves. But, the amount has to be reasonable.
Recently, the court had to deal with one such a case, where a couple, who developed Alzheimer’s disease, had appointed their three children as their attorneys under an enduring power of attorney (EPA). They then revoked the power of attorney with regard to one of their daughters, who had health issues.
A monthly allowance of £150 was paid to each of the three children from their parents’ income of about £29,000 a year. The sums were claimed on account of covering travel expenses so that the children could all visit their parents. In addition, transfers in the sum of £6,000 per year were made into a deposit account in each of the attorneys’ names, as a reserve for care fees.
Following a family dispute, the Office of the Public Guardian was informed that the attorneys were exploiting the situation to try to enrich themselves and an investigation ensued. The father has since died.
The investigation led to a court hearing in which the judge ruled that:
(a) The services provided by the attorneys were reasonably required to meet the parents’ care needs.
(b) The investigation found the payment to be affordable and sustainable;
(c) The payments charged were very less compared to the commercial cost of providing those services; and
(d) Since, no provision was made by the donors in their EPAs regarding the remuneration of attorneys and rewarding them for providing care support services, those payments struck a reasonable balance between ensuring that the attorneys were not financially disadvantaged by acting as their parents’ attorneys and that they were not actually making a profit from their position.
Curry Popeck summarized by saying that an attorney is entitled to compensation, subject to the terms of the Power of Attorney. But, an attorney who charges for his services is held to a higher standard of care than an attorney acting without compensation. While, an unpaid attorney is required to “exercise the degree of care, diligence and skill that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise in the conduct of his or her own affairs” the paid attorney is required to “exercise the degree of care, diligence and skill that a person in the business of managing the property of others is required to exercise.”
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the issues raised in this post, or wish to contact Curry Popeck Solicitors please visit- http://www.currypopeck.com/.
Curry Popeck solicitors specialize in Corporate Law, Family Law, Employment Law, Dispute Resolution, Property Law and Sports and Entertainment Law. Their team of highly experienced solicitors, led by Philip Popeck and Lionel Curry provides tailored solutions on all the above legal issues and will be very happy to help.