What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (or LPA) is a document that allows you to appoint one or more people to make decisions for you or act on your behalf.
What sort of decisions?
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney. One sort allows the person or people you appoint (your attorney/attorneys) to look after, and make decisions about, your property and finances and the other sort allows them to make decisions about your health and welfare. Some people just want to have one sort, others want to have both, it’s up to you.
Before the attorney can make any decisions on your behalf, the LPA has to be registered with the Office of The Public Guardian and in the case of an LPA for health and welfare, you have to have lost the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself as well. A property and finances LPA can be used as soon as it is registered if you want, so could cover instances where you are out of the country or if you are not able to get out and about.
Who can I appoint?
You can appoint who you want, as long as they are over 18, not bankrupt and have the mental capacity to act. Close family members seem to be a popular choice. If you want both types of LPA, you can have the same attorneys for each, or different people for the different LPAs. There are a few things to consider when making the appointments, but trust is a major one and the choice has to be yours.
I’m pretty healthy and don’t think I’m that old. Why would I need one now?
If only life were that certain. Whilst many people associate dementia as a later life condition, this is not actually the case and it can occur in people who may be considered relatively young. In addition, dementia is not the only thing that can cause a person to lose the capacity to make decisions for themselves, many diseases can be responsible as can physical head injuries, quite often sustained by very fit younger people in any number of sporting or driving activity.
When considering life planning, there are always variables and probabilities to account for. You finally come to terms with mortality and decide to make a Will. This is going to cover something that will definitely happen but even then, often plans for ‘what if’ situations. Losing capacity is something that might not happen, so it is much easier to have a quick think about it and then put it on the back burner for thinking about at a later date and unfortunately, all to often, it’s never thought of again.
Lasting Power of Attorney’s can be looked at as insurance policies. Hoping they will never be needed but there, just in case. Make it now then store it away, because when capacity is gone, it’s too late.
For further advice please contact our Wills & Estates team on 0345 20 73 72 8 or email firstname.lastname@example.org