Making a Lasting Power of Attorney under the law of England and Wales (an “LPA“) – appointing someone to manage your affairs in England and Wales in the event of your lacking mental capacity to do so yourself – is an important part of your estate planning. If you have assets outside England and Wales, however, you would need to seek legal advice in the country where the assets are located as to whether the LPA would be accepted there.
Some countries will recognise an LPA. However, even once past that hurdle, you would need to find out if the institution holding the assets, for example a bank, in that country would accept the LPA. It can take some time and extensive steps to convince an institution that a foreign power of attorney is valid.
For an LPA to be accepted abroad, it will often be the case (as a bare minimum) that a certified copy of it, attested by a notary public with an apostille attached by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with a translated and certified version of the LPA in the local language, will need to be provided. In addition to this, a legal opinion on the validity of the LPA in England and Wales would often be needed along with legal advice in the relevant country. All of this has cost implications, not to mention delays when it may be the case that the LPA needs to be used urgently.
It is for these reasons that individuals who have assets in more than one country should consider putting in place a power of attorney in each such country from the beginning. This will be more cost efficient in the long run and will minimise future delays or the risk of a foreign power of attorney not being recognised at a time when it is needed most.