Powers of Attorney (LPA's)
A lasting power of attorney is legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime. The people you appoint to manage your affairs are called attorneys.
A lasting power of attorney is a separate legal document to your will, although many people put them in place at the same time as part of wanting to plan for the future.
Why is a Lasting Power of Attorney so important?
Once you have a lasting power of attorney in place, you can have Peace of Mind that there will be someone you trust to look after your affairs if you become unable to do so yourself during your lifetime. This may occur, for example, because of an illness, old age or an accident.
Having a lasting power of attorney in place can allow your attorney to have authority to deal with your finances and property, as well as making decisions about your health and welfare. Your lasting power of attorney can include binding instructions together with general preferences for your attorney to consider. Your lasting power of attorney should reflect your wishes so you know the things that matter most will be taken care of.
You can only put a lasting power of attorney in place whilst you are capable of understanding the nature and effect of the document i.e., you have the required legal capacity. After this point, you cannot enter into a lasting power of attorney and no one can do so on your behalf. Many people don't know their next of kin has no automatic legal right to manage their affairs without a lasting power of attorney in place, so having to make decisions on their behalf can become prolonged and significantly more expensive.
For couples, the best option is to have a mirror, identical, lasting power of attorneys because these documents would allow them to appoint each other to make decisions about the others financial affairs and health issues; should one of them lose capacity to do so.
What would happen without
Without an LPA
Without a lasting power of attorney in place no one has the legal authority to manage your affairs, for example, to Access Bank accounts or investments in your name or sell property on your behalf.
Unfortunately, many people assume that their spouse, partner or children will just be able to take care of things, but in reality this isn't the case.
Without an LPA, in order for someone to obtain legal authority over your affairs, the person would need to apply to the Court of Protection and the court will appoint a deputy to manage your affairs. this is a very difficult type of appointment which is significantly more involved and costly than being appointed attorney under an LPA.
If you wish to have Peace of Mind that a particular person will have the legal authority to look after your affairs and you want to make matters easier for them and less expensive, then you should strongly consider getting a lasting power of attorney in place. this also gives you Peace of Mind that your wishes will be carried out.
What are the types of Lasting Powers of Attorney?
Two types of lasting power of attorney are available under English law:
Health and welfare lasting power of attorney
Property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney
A health and welfare LPA allows you to name attorneys to make decisions about your healthcare, treatments and living arrangements if you lose the ability to make those decisions yourself. unlike the property and financial affairs LPA this document will only ever become effective if you lack the mental capacity to make decisions yourself.
If you cannot communicate your wishes, you could end up in a care home when you may have preferred to stay in your own home.
You may also receive medical treatment or be put into a nursing home that you would have refused, if only you had the opportunity to express yourself; and this is when your attorney, appointed by the LPA, can speak for you.
A property and financial affairs LPA allows you to name attorneys to deal with your property and financial assets in England and Wales. the document can be restricted so it can only be used if you were to lose mental capacity, or it can be used more widely, such as if you suffer from illness, have mobility issues, or you spend time outside of the UK.