Frances Kelly explains why business owners should consider a Lasting Power of Attorney. 2010 was an exceptional year for owners trying to run businesses for many reasons, not least of which were unforeseeable events such as Swine Flu, volcanic ash clouds and extreme weather conditions. As a business owner you might think events like these are beyond your control but Frances Kelly, Senior Partner at Tallents in Newark explains that with careful planning and forethought, it is possible to plan for the worst case scenario. Frances Kelly, solicitor at Tallents, Newark, Notts Unfortunately, many business owners do not think about what would happen to their business if they became incapable of running or making important day-to-day decisions either through physical or mental incapacity, or if they were stranded abroad for any reason. Frances says,

“This year businesses have had to cope with some quite exceptional events, such as Swine Flu, or key personnel being stranded abroad because of extreme weather conditions. In the current financial climate it is even more important that business owners plan ahead to keep their businesses running successfully.

“You may think you can rely on family, friends, or even employees, to take over the running of the business for you but this really isn’t a satisfactory long-term solution. You’ve probably spent years building up your business and you need to know that the person left in charge will have the authority to make the best day-to-day decisions.

“This is why we recommend that business owners protect themselves and their business by having a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”). Not only will it save time, it’ll help ensure that everything runs smoothly in your absence.”

A LPA enables you to appoint someone (an “Attorney”) to look after your financial affairs if you were to become incapable of dealing with them yourself. You decide on who will deal with your affairs on your behalf and you can place restrictions on and give guidance to your Attorney(s) on how they should deal with your business affairs. Frances continues,

“If you are making an LPA in respect of your business affairs, it makes sense to appoint someone who is familiar with the business. For example, the partners in a business could appoint each other, or you could appoint someone in your family who knows the business well. You can also choose more than one Attorney who could act jointly or separately from each other. The choice is yours, but it’s not one to be taken lightly.”

An LPA relating to your financial affairs must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, regardless of your mental capacity in order for it to be valid. Once that’s done, then you will have peace of mind that should anything happen to you your Attorney can act on your behalf. Frances finishes,

“If you were to become incapacitated, then without a LPA, an application would have to be made to the Court of Protection in order for someone to be appointed as your deputy. This process can take months and the costs involved are much higher than those involved in obtaining a Lasting Power of Attorney. In the meantime, who knows what will happen to your business?

It really makes so much sense to apply for an LPA now and never have to use it. Think of it as an insurance policy that could keep your business running successfully.”

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