Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we have become more aware of people being seriously ill in hospital without a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place. With limited access to bank accounts and no attorney in place to make decisions regarding healthcare, these challenges will no doubt resonate with anyone with family members who are unable to make important decisions because of a long-term illness.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a way of giving someone you trust – your attorney – the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do so yourself in the future, or if you no longer want to make decisions for yourself.
Making an LPA is an important part of lifetime legal planning and it can be very difficult to predict exactly what situations might arise in the future so the sooner you have these plans in place, the better. Without an LPA, you may have to go through the complex process of applying to the Court of Protection instead.
What type of Lasting Powers of Attorney do I need?
There are two different types of LPA:
- Property and Financial
- Health and Welfare
It is advisable to make both, but they do act independently of each other. This gives you the flexibility to choose appropriate, and potentially different, attorneys to manage your different affairs. Both types of LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian to enable them to be used.
With both types of LPA it is possible to restrict the types of decision your attorney can make, for example you can remove any authority to make decisions regarding life sustaining treatment.
Property and Finance LPA
A Property and Financial Lasting Power of Attorney can be used while you still have mental capacity – which can be helpful if you become physically unwell or have to self-isolate – or you can state that you only want it to come into force if you lose capacity. It can cover things such as:
- Buying and selling a property
- Paying the mortgage
- Investing money
- Paying bills
- Arranging repairs to property
If you are setting up an LPA for financial decisions, your attorney must keep accounts and make sure their money is separate from yours. You can ask for details of payments to be sent to your solicitor, or another family member, if you lose mental capacity. This provides an added layer of protection and gives you peace of mind that everything is being handled professionally.
Health and Welfare LPA
Unlike a Property and Financial Affairs attorney, a Health and Welfare LPA can only be used when you are mentally incapable of making your own decisions – so putting one in place now will not jeopardise your independence. An attorney can make decisions on:
- Personal care and care provision – such as choosing a home care company or residential placement for you, arranging meals, enabling you to take part in social activities
- Medical treatment
- Palliative care
The responsibilities listed above will directly affect you. For this reason, it is very important that the person you choose as your LPA for Health and Welfare is somebody you know and trust.
How we can help
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of planning ahead should you become ill and unable to manage your affairs. It has also caused lots of uncertainty for many people. Having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, you can rest assured that your attorneys will be able to make decisions on your behalf, in the event that you find yourself unable to do so.
Before making your LPA, we can guide you through the types of decisions which you need to consider and will advise you on the appropriateness of the powers you intend to grant.
Our Private Client team will carefully draft and prepare your LPA for you, to ensure that all your requirements are clear and legally binding. For more information, or to speak to a member of the team, please call us on 01603 677077.