Although making a Will can be considered as quite morbid, it’s important to think ahead to the future. It’s just as important to consider what might happen if you were to ever become incapacitated, which is why it is vital to make and register a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where you appoint one or more Attorneys to act for you and look after your affairs if you suffer the loss of mental capacity. The Attorneys you nominate could be a relative or a trusted friend that you feel comfortable leaving in charge of communicating your wishes, representing you and managing your affairs.
There are two types of LPA: Property & Financial Affairs LPAs and Health & Welfare LPAs. Property & Financial Affairs LPAs are enabled to make financial decisions, manage taxes and buy or sell assets; this can be at your discretion while you still have capacity. Health & Welfare LPAs are enabled to make healthcare decisions, such as personal care, medical consents, accommodation and diet; this can only be if you lose the capacity.
To be valid for use by your Attorneys, both must be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. If you nominate more than one Attorney, you can appoint them so that they act independently of each other or together, depending on what is appropriate.
You can decide which responsibilities each of them has and in which circumstances you will require them to start acting, although care should be taken in this case to avoid any confusion which could render the LPA invalid.
An LPA allows you to determine:
• The decisions you want to be made on your behalf, such as:
– Where you live
– Selling your home
– Finance management
– Healthcare requirements
• The people who will make these decisions on your behalf
• How and when you want these named people to make these decisions
Benefits of Appointing Lasting Power of Attorneys
There are a number of benefits to appointing LPAs:
You can’t predict what could happen, today, tomorrow, or any day in the future. So, no matter what, you need to make sure that your affairs are taken care of. This includes your business interests, so it will suffer minimal disruption is anything happens to you.
They are legally binding documents that are recognised by both financial and medical institutions and must keep within the Mental Capacity Act 2005, so you can ensure they are reliable, and any concerns will be investigated.
Finally, by having LPAs in place, you can reduce the risk of burdening your loved ones with a costly application to the Court of Protection and having little or no control over your important decisions.
When Should I Arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney?
You cannot make an LPA if you have already lost mental capacity. If this occurs, your close relatives and next of kin will have no legal authority to manage your affairs and will have to apply to become a Deputy through the Court of Protection.
It is much better to have an LPA put into place sooner rather than later. It can provide peace of mind for both parties, so you can avoid any access problems, any issues can be dealt with quickly and you can ensure that your decisions and affairs will be managed effectively.
Life is unpredictable and accidents can happen at any time, so it always better to be safe by arranging one now.
How Do I Get a Lasting Power of Attorney?
To make sure that all responsibilities are covered, it is best to seek advice from a solicitor who can draw up and assist you to apply for your LPA. If there are underlying family issues, complex or business assets involved or other individual circumstances that need to be considered, seeking expert legal advice will help decide the best course of action for you.