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 that 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 authorises your attorney to deal with your property and finances. 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 nominated 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. In essence, it is an insurance policy which ensures that your affairs can be managed if, for any reason, you become unable to handle the same on your own. Making an LPA is sensible planning as it means that there is someone on hand to manage your affairs if, or when, you are unable to cope.
Choosing Your attorneys
An LPA is a very significant document, and as such when nominating an attorney, you need to be very confident that you have picked the right person. Your attorneys must be individuals you trust, who are aged over 18, and who have appropriate skills to make the proposed decisions.
If you appoint more than one attorney, they can 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 or replacement for your nominated 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 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 will, in such circumstances, need to involve the Court of Protection.
Our solicitors are friendly and approachable and will talk you through the best course of action that is tailored to your own personal circumstance. We can then prepare all of the legal documents for you, advise you on how to get them signed and witnessed properly and thereafter make the application for the LPA on your behalf.
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