When we start planning for the future, two terms that often crop up are ‘power of attorney’ and ‘executor.’ Though these roles are somewhat related, they refer to two distinct responsibilities. An attorney acts while you are still alive and/or if you become mentally incapable of managing your affairs, whereas an executor’s role begins only after your death. Understanding and officially registering who you might trust in these roles ahead of time is crucial. This blog breaks down the differences between attorneys and executors of your will, explaining what each role entails and how to legally appoint your chosen individuals.
What is Power of Attorney?
Giving someone ‘power of attorney’ means empowering them to make financial, health-related, and welfare decisions on your behalf, should you become incapable of doing so yourself. It’s worth noting that you can have multiple attorneys, as well as replacement attorneys, to cover different aspects of your life.
Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, an attorney is required to give you the chance to make your own decisions.
How to Appoint an Attorney
You use a ‘Lasting Power of Attorney’ (LPA) to appoint someone as your attorney. There are two types of LPA:
- Health & Welfare: Your attorney will be empowered to make decisions relating to matters such as your daily routine, medical care, whether you move into a care home or not, and life-sustaining treatment. This kind of attorney can only act if you become incapacitated.
- Property and Financial Affairs: This type of attorney can make decisions about your money and property. This includes managing your bank accounts, paying your bills, collecting benefits or pensions, and even selling your property. You can choose to enable your attorney to start making these decisions right away, although they don’t have to.
To register someone as your attorney, particular forms are required to be completed and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. You’ll also need to pay a £82 fee unless you qualify for a reduction or exemption.
What is an Executor?
An executor is someone you name to carry out your wishes in accordance with your Will after your death. You can choose either a friend or family member, a professional executor, or even a combination of both. You can also name multiple executors and replacements if you wish.
Executor’s duties can include:
- Registering the person’s death and arranging the funeral
- Securing copies of the will
- Calculating whether any inheritance tax is due and organizing payment if necessary
- Applying for probate
- Collecting and safeguarding your assets
- Settling any outstanding debts or liabilities, as well as paying any tax on qualifying estate income
- Distributing the estate to your named beneficiaries
How to Name an Executor
Name your executor in your Will. You have the flexibility to choose a family member, friend, or professional executor. You can also appoint more than one executor (up to four) if you wish.
Key Differences Between an Executor and Attorney
- An attorney acts while you are still alive or if you become mentally incapable, whereas an executor’s role begins after your death.
- There are different types of attorneys who focus on various areas.
- The method of appointment differs: an attorney is named through a ‘Lasting Power of Attorney,’ while you appoint your executor in your Will.
Planning Ahead for the Future
Nobody wants to think about a time when they’re no longer here or become mentally incapable of managing their affairs. Nevertheless, planning ahead is the best way to alleviate stress for your loved ones later down the line. We’re here to support you as you plan for the future, offering advice about LPAs, drafting a will, and naming an executor. If required, we can also act as professional executors. Our expert legal team specializes in estate planning and can tailor our services to fit your unique needs.
Get in touch today to find out how we can help.