Lasting Powers of Attorney are not just for the elderly, have you got one in place?
Most of us realise the importance of having a will in place in case the unthinkable happens, generally life events such as buying a house, marriage or children are the trigger for writing or renewing a will. However few consider putting a lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place until they are in the later stages of life.
What is A Lasting Power of Attorney? (LPA)
A Lasting Power of Attorney gives a chosen individual the legal authority to look after your financial affairs and welfare should you lose the capacity to do so. If you have an LPA in place it can make arrangements much simpler for your family. It can reduce the delays, complexities and expenses associated with applying to The Court of Protection should you become mentally incapacitated. With an LPA in place your loved ones will have access to and be able to control your finances and assets should they need to.
Being a formal legal document means that LPAs are recognised by financial institutions, tax, benefits and pension authorities as well care homes and other medical facilities. There are two types of LPA, one governing decisions regarding financial decisions and property and one that covers healthcare.
Property and financial affairs LPA
One major difference between the two types of LPA is that a property and financial affairs LPA can be used while someone still has mental capacity, whereas a personal welfare LPA can only be used once they have lost it. This enables your chosen carer to act on your behalf, for instance signing cheques or physically visiting your bank on your behalf should access be difficult for you. Your chosen person administering a property and financial affairs LPA can make decisions on your property such as buying and selling your property. They are able to deal with your bills, run your bank accounts and invest your money on your behalf.
Personal welfare LPA
A person acting on a personal welfare LPA, can make decisions about where you should live, how you should be treated medically, what you should eat and who you should have contact with but only once it has been deemed that you lack the mental capacity for these decisions yourself.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are not just for the elderly
It is estimated that more than 1 million people in the UK will have dementia by 2025, with one in five over 85s already living with the condition. Looking after your financial and personal affairs becomes extremely difficult to impossible. Planning ahead with an LPA can ease the potential burden on your loved ones. But it’s not just the elderly that should be making these plans. Anybody, young or old, can become incapacitated through accident or illness.
What is involved with setting up an LPA?
You can choose anyone to be your attorney provided they are happy with taking on the role, are over 18 and not bankrupt. It will be your attorney’s duty to make all decisions in your best interest and they must follow guidelines set out in the Mental Capacity Act, making sure you make your own decisions where possible.
To make sure your LPA has been created with your own free will an LPA must be signed by a certificate provider, a solicitor or a family member or friend (other than your chosen attorney). They need to certify that you understand the LPA and have not been pressured into signing it.
LPAs are legal documents that can be set up relatively cheaply, with or without the help of a solicitor, although for peace of mind we would suggest going through your solicitor, particularly if you have more complex needs. Without legal advice there is a danger of making errors which could make your attorney’s role unnecessarily difficult. For example if want to put in specific restrictions to what your chosen Attorney can do, this can be quite complicated to draft and if drafted incorrectly it could lead to the Office of the Public Guardian severing the restriction or even rendering the power of attorney invalid. We would recommend you consider having one alongside your will.
Where can you find out more about LPAs?
Baldwin & Robinson can answer any concerns you may have about setting up an LPA and guide you through the whole process. If you would like to talk more about LPAs or Wills and Probate please do get in touch.
Or if you would like to do more of your own research the following links may be useful.
Forms and guidance are free from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) or call 0300 456 0300.
Age UK also publishes a useful guide, Arranging for Someone to Make Decisions about Your Finance or Welfare.
Look for lawyers who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers, many of whom specialise in LPAs.
Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) will give you peace of mind that there is someone to assist you, if required, or take over in the event of you being unable to look after your own affairs whether that is during elderly stages of life or through accident or illness.
Call 01883 708155 for more information