We are all aware of the need to keep our affairs up to date but for a business owner, director or sole trader, failing to plan takes on even greater importance. The emergence and rapid escalation of COVID-19 has over the last few weeks has, amongst other things, made us all rethink the precautions we have in place to protect our assets.
The unfortunate and worrying headlines that we are seeing on a daily basis, even now including our own Prime Minister, does throw a spotlight on the fact that we are all human and vulnerable to any number of health issues.
So how do we ensure business as usual when key people are unable to work?
Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPA”) can be helpful in these circumstances. A LPA is a document where you name one or more people to manage your affairs (personal, business, or both) should circumstances dictate that you are not available to do this yourself. It is, perhaps, relevant to view a LPA in the same way as you might an insurance policy – it is something to be relied on if and when necessary, but has to be in place before the need arises.
There are two types of LPA that we can all complete. One relates to our property and finances, and the other our health and welfare. They are separate documents and different people (attorneys) can be appointed in each. For example, you can appoint your business partners to continue to manage your business affairs, and family members to look after your health and welfare decisions. Quite simply it is a “horses for courses” decision – who is the best person for the job?
Part of the process for bringing a LPA into effect is registration of the completed documentation with the Office of the Public Guardian. Over the last few weeks we have seen demand for LPA’s increase. As a result the turnaround time for the Office of the Public Guardian to register LPA’s has increased from eight to 10 weeks and it is realistic to expect this to extend further.
A two tier solution
Given the unprecedented times we are living in, the Private Client Team at Mogers Drewett recognise that this time scale is not beneficial to those wanting immediate protection and so they are offering all clients who instruct them to put an LPA in place a free General Power of Attorney. This two tier solution means that clients can rest assured that they are protected while their LPA, which is the recommended option, is being registered.
A General Power of Attorney is a far simpler document and is effective as soon as it is signed without the need to be registered. It ceases to be effective if someone loses mental capacity and so would not be a good long term option, but would be an interim solution in the event you were isolated at home or in hospital whilst being treated or recovering from an illness such as Covid19.
In these difficult trading times, having someone with the authority to act as a signatory for you and carry out your instructions (which can be given by telephone or email for example) could be the difference between a business still being able to operate or not.
At Mogers Drewett we have a specialist team of private client lawyers across our offices in Bath, Wells and Sherborne who are set up to assist you and give full and comprehensive advice, even whilst the lockdown and social distancing regulations are in place. So please get in touch if you want to protect your business today on 0800 533 5349 we are here to help.