Lasting Powers of Attorney: Live or dormant?

Is it better to register LPAs straight away? It’s up to the individual – but on the whole, the PGO might be right. To err is human, and the best way of getting to the right end result is not to test humanity’s weakness.

If we look at the system from a solutions-based viewpoint, then the best way of getting what the client wants or needs might be to get the document registered sooner rather than later. If there is an error that was missed somewhere along the line, then if the LPA is registered early, there is a chance that the donor still has capacity to execute a replacement document. If left until the very last moment – whilst this can still afford protection from attorneys managing your affairs before you are ready for them to – runs the greater risk of all your plans coming to nothing. With no prospect of recovery other than a deputyship application.

Abuses do exist in the system. As do errors. Because there are human beings involved. The most important thing is to focus on the end result. If a mistake has been made, can it be recovered? If an abuse takes place, can the abuse be stopped and the offending person prosecuted. If you want yes to either of those, then the best answer is to register the LPA as soon as possible. And to choose people who you trust (not people of last resort). This gives the widest margin and cushion against abuse or error.


HMRC -v- Hanson [2013] UKUT 0224 (TCC)

I’ve been sent a copy of a judgment to read through – hopefully I will be able to decode it into something slightly more reasonable. If anyone wants to join the bookclub experience, it is [2013] UKUT 0224 (TCC) FTC/44/2012.

So far, I have established that, barring an appeal, this is about IHT, APR, the nexus binding the relationship between a “farmhouse” and the land pertaining to that farmhouse being different from that previously understood.

I am working my way round to simplifying the judgment in my head, but I think the nexus of ownership rests less on the taxpayer being the common owner, and more on the basis of the land being used for a common purpose, so moving towards ownership *and* purpose. But it’s deep stuff, and a cursory read is all I can manage at the moment. Very technical academic stuff.

Fixed fee or by the hour?

Some people think that solicitors charging for their time is a bit old fashioned. There is a huge move towards the commoditisation of legal services – so that, rather like Tesco, you buy something off the shelf. This is greatly to be praised – it means the customer can see what they get and be able to compare services.

The difficulty comes when you compare a retail item to a service and a skill. If you want a T-Shirt, do you get it from Tesco, Gap, or somewhere designer? What is it about the T-Shirt buying experience, or the product that you buy that appeals? The good quality? The cheap item that you need before heading to the beach? The one with the special label that means you are exclusive and/or you look more attractive?

When you think about other trades – plumbers, electricians, mechanics, gardeners – then they also charge for their skills on the basis of how long it will take. Some charge a combination – a call out fee with one hour included.

What’s the worst thing about fees being charged on the basis of the time that is spent? Not knowing where you are. And being faced with a huge bill. And how large a bill depends sometimes on what you are used to. And what you think the job is worth.

I’d like to run a survey – how should your solicitor charge?