Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives another qualifying adult – known as the attorney – the legal authority to manage your affairs on your behalf if you were to become ill or lose capacity to the point where you could not make decisions regarding your own healthcare or welfare.
In these difficult circumstances, you would understandably want your spouse, partner or children to take care of you. However, if you do not have an LPA in place, there is no guarantee that your preferred friends or family members will have the authority to take charge.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to secure an LPA sooner rather than later. Not having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place before you have lost the ability to make decisions for yourself could be both problematic and expensive for all involved. For complete peace of mind, you should draw up two separate LPAs: one that covers your financial and property-related affairs, and one that allows you to choose someone to make important decisions about your health requirements and overall welfare. You should also make sure copies of your Lasting Powers of Attorney are stored in a secure facility, as it’s easy for important documents like these to get misfiled and lost.
What happens if you don’t have an LPA in place?
If you lose capacity, and you do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney, your loved ones will need to apply to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy who can manage your affairs for you.
It's a long, exasperating procedure that can often take anywhere between 6 and 12 months – and one that your family shouldn’t have to endure at what is already likely to be a stressful and upsetting time.
Make the right arrangements now, and you won’t need to worry later. The best time to make a Lasting Power of Attorney is when you are still working, and young enough to benefit from the security it can offer your family and friends – but you can start the process at any time, as long as you are of sound mind. Remember, too, that the LPA will only come into action if you lose mental capacity due to illnesses or injury (for example, from a stroke, or through dementia).
It’s especially important to register a Lasting Power of Attorney if there is a history of mental or physical illness in your family, or you work in a hazardous environment.
Who should you appoint as your attorney?
It’s a difficult decision – but a vital one. When choosing your attorney, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
• Can you trust your attorney to act in your best interests?
• Has your attorney got a good track record when it comes to managing finances and making life-changing decisions?
• Would you benefit from appointing multiple attorneys who can work together on your behalf?
• Would you prefer to appoint a professional body in place of somebody who is close to you? It is possible for a solicitor to take on this role instead?