My mother has been in a nursing home for eleven months, with no chance of her coming out. She recently told me to put her bungalow on the market. As I have Power of Attorney, can I legally go ahead and sell it?
A. This, as I’m sure you appreciate, is quite a complex question which really needs to be addressed to your solicitor.
That said however, my understanding of the guiding principles is basically this: Powers of Attorney (PoA’s) can be either general or specific. In other words, they can either delegate all powers to the chosen individual, or they can specify particular powers. Similarly, some PoA’s are effectively open-ended in terms of their shelf-life, while others only remain in force for a set period of time.
The net result of this is that as long as your PoA has been validly executed as a deed, is still in force, and is not specifically limited to another issue or issues, then there is no reason why you cannot legally sell your mothers property.
When you come to do so, the solicitor you instruct to act for you in the sale will need to have sight either of the original PoA or a certified copy, in order to prepare the contract documentation correctly. You will then be required to sign all paperwork in relation to the house sale as Attorney for your mother.
Of course, you already have your mother’s agreement to the sale, which is as it should be. However, PoA’s are often granted because the individual concerned is not deemed to be capable of making their own rational decisions. In such cases, it may be necessary to apply to the Court of Protection.
Finally, one further point I think worth mentioning on the general subject of PoA’s – although I’m sure it doesn’t apply in your case - is that the appointed attorney must, of course, always act in the best interests of the appointee. If not, then he or she can be sued for breach of trust.