Lasting Power of Attorney
When we plan for the future it is essential to consider the possibility of becoming unable to look after our own affairs because of physical or mental incapacity, whether brought on by an accident, illness or old age.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document which appoints someone (or more than one person) as your attorney, so they can help make those important decisions on your behalf if you become incapable of doing so for yourself.
What do LPAs cover?
There are two types of LPAs:
- A Property and Financial Affairs LPA, which allows your attorney authority to deal with your property and finances, as you specify. The attorney is able to assist with:
- Paying bills
- Managing your bank account
- Claiming benefits
- Selling your property
- A Health and Welfare LPA, which allows your chosen attorney to make welfare and health care decisions on your behalf, only when you lack the mental capacity to do so yourself. These decisions include:
- Your daily routine
- Medical care
- Moving into a care home
- Life sustaining treatment
Registering Lasting Powers of Attorneys
An LPA must be signed when you are mentally capable of doing so, and can only be used after it is registered with the Office of Public Guardian (OPG). This usually takes up to 8 weeks. It is therefore important to consider signing an LPA at the earliest opportunity to avoid delays and difficulties at a time when it needs to be used.
Making an LPA does not restrict your right to control your affairs for as long as you feel able. The power runs parallel to your own right to deal with your assets and to make decisions by yourself. Making an LPA is sensible planning as it means that there is someone to take over if, and when, you cannot cope.
Choosing your attorneys
An LPA is a very powerful document, so when choosing an attorney you need to be completely confident you have picked the right person. You need to choose people you trust completely, who are aged over 18, and who have appropriate skills to make the proposed decisions.
If you appoint more than one attorney, you can appoint them to always act together (jointly) or together and separately (jointly and severally). You may even appoint them to act jointly for some things and jointly and severally for others, although this should only be done with advice, as it may cause problems when using the power.
You may also choose to appoint a successor to your attorney, in case they die or otherwise cannot act for you.
If you do not feel you have anybody suitable to act as your attorney, you can appoint one of our experienced solicitors as your attorney.
What happens without a Lasting Power of Attorney?
If you do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney and the lose the mental capacity to deal with your own affairs, either by way of accident, or other illness your spouse or partner will not be able to access your assets or manage your financial affairs and welfare needs. your family may need to involve the Court of Protection.
Whether you are planning ahead or dealing with an immediate need, our experienced and professional team of solicitors are here to help. For more information please contact 01603 677077.