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  • Writer's pictureAnnabel Ashford

Lasting Powers of Attorney for farmers - why do I need one?

We all know how hard farmers work. They do not stop, they rarely retire and, all too often, work in dangerous environments. Farmers accept this risk, but often don’t do anything to prepare for the event something goes wrong.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (‘LPAs’) are important legal documents that ensure someone you have chosen can make decisions on your behalf should you become mentally incapable of making such decisions yourself. We like to describe an LPA as an insurance policy; we hope that we never need to use it, but it is there ‘just in case’.

If you lost your mental capacity or your capability to deal with the day-to-day running of your farm, who would make business decisions about purchasing feed for your livestock, seed for next year’s crops or that all important insurance, if no one was entitled to deal with things on your behalf? An LPA appoints someone to access your bank accounts, insurance policies and other assets if you can’t, to ensure that not only your personal assets are looked after, but also your agricultural and business assets.

Farms are not only your business but also your livelihood, and it is important that these business transactions carry on. Farm bank accounts are often in one person’s sole name, particularly when there is not a partnership. Even if there are others who work on your farm, they may not be able to continue dealing with the finances, and there is no automatic legal right for anyone to manage another person’s affairs. You would hate to see all those years of hard work grind to a halt.

Your attorneys can carry out their duties on a short-term basis, for example if you were unwell or had had an accident, or on a long-term basis if something more serious happened to you.

So, what can I do?

In short, prepare an LPA. There are two types of LPA, one to look after your Property and Finances, and one for your Health and Welfare. Both are equally important.

Specific clauses can be added into your LPA to ensure that your attorneys can continue with your business. You appoint people who you trust to deal with your affairs, access your bank accounts, speak to your insurance providers, settle your invoices and continue your business that you have worked so hard to create.

Not only do you choose who you appoint, if you are appointing more than one attorney then you can choose how they should act both in relation to what decisions they can make and also whether they must act together or can act separately.

Author: Annabel Ashford (Apprentice Solicitor) - visit Anabel's profile to learn more about her.

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