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Lasting Powers of Attorney – Can an attorney sell a jointly owned property?

Lasting Powers of Attorney – Can an attorney sell a jointly owned property?

You may be aware of the well-known quote ‘there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes’.

But are you doing enough to prepare for life uncertainties and protecting your assets? What happens if you, your spouse or partner becomes mentally incapacitated? Many more people in the UK have registered a designated Lasting Power of Attorney (currently 2.4 million registered in England and Wales) to ensure they have someone authorised to deal with their affairs should they no longer have the capacity to do so.

Although this is wise planning, there are some issues which are not always considered when making the Lasting Powers of Attorney – in particular in respect of the selling of jointly owned property.

Whilst your attorney has the authority to sell your property on your behalf, issues can arise where a property is owned jointly and only one attorney is appointed. Often a married couple will appoint each other as their sole attorney or even just one child. If both owners lose capacity and property needs to be sold, their sole attorney cannot sign the transfer alone to sell the property. This issue also arises where only one of the owners loses capacity and the other owner has been appointed as their attorney. The owner cannot sign the transfer for themselves and as an attorney for the owner who has lost capacity.

One way of overcoming this issue, would be for each owner to either appoint different attorneys, or two attorneys with the power to act jointly and severally (for example, their spouse and another person). This would allow two different people to sign the transfer deed to sell the property, preventing any delays in the sale.

Whilst there are other options available to resolve this issue at the time of sale, if you are already preparing for the future, why not also prepare for this possibility and assist the transaction to as run as smoothly as possible for your attorney?

Contact IBB’s experienced wills and trusts solicitors today to discuss your matter. Call us today on 01494 790002 or email jacqueline.almond@ibblaw.co.uk