Do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?
None of us want to imagine a time when we are no longer capable of making our own decisions. Yet as medical advances enable us to live longer, the chances of needing help later in life increase.
Do you know who would manage your finances or make decisions about where you should live if you were no longer able to? You may imagine this would be your loved ones, but if you have not made a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) they will likely have no legal power to do so.
An LPA is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people (known as attorneys) to help you make decisions, or make decisions on your behalf if necessary, about your finances, living arrangements and health.
There are two types of LPA – one that deals with your property and financial affairs, and one that deals with your health and welfare.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs
This does what it says on the tin – it allows your attorney to help manage your property, bills, pensions and bank accounts. Most people prefer to register their LPA when making it. This means that whilst you have mental capacity you can allow your attorney to assist you in managing your affairs if you wish, but should you lose capacity your attorney can use the LPA immediately, taking control seamlessly.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare
Your attorney can only step in and make decisions about your health and welfare on your behalf once you have lost mental capacity and can no longer make these decisions yourself. This type of LPA gives your attorney a general authority to make choices about your medical care and personal welfare. This includes deciding whether you should be given life sustaining treatment or whether you should be moved into a care home.
It is never too early to make an LPA. As most of us are only too aware, illness and accidents can happen at any time and no one knows what the future holds. If you lost mental capacity and did not have an LPA, professionals will generally make decisions on your behalf unless a family member or friend applies to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. Such applications are lengthy, expensive and stressful at an already difficult time. Make an LPA now and you can be safe in the knowledge it is there if you need it.
For further information about LPAs please contact our Private Client team.