Do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Many people don’t really know what a Lasting Power of Attorney does and those that do think that they don’t need one yet. Everyone should have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) as an LPA authorises nominated members of your family and/or trusted friends (called attorneys) to act on your behalf if you are not capable of making your own decisions. Sadly, accident and misfortune can befall any of us. That is why it is never too early to sign a LPA, as it will not become operative unless you lose the ability, either on a temporary or permanent basis, to make decisions for yourself.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
Health and welfare – this type of LPA allows your nominated family or friends to make decisions about your medical treatment and care needs if you lack capacity to do so;
Property and financial affairs – this type of LPA allows your attorneys to manage your financial affairs (for example to manage your bank account to pay bills) if you lack capacity to do so.
You can sign one or both types of LPA. You choose the types of LPA’s that you are comfortable with and you choose your attorneys. If you change your mind, you can cancel the LPA or change a chosen attorney.
The LPA is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian but the LPA will not be used unless there comes a time when you lack the capacity to make your own decisions.
What you cannot do is wait until you or a relative has lost capacity and then prepare an LPA. If you or a relative are incapacitated and do not have an LPA in place a court application can be made to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed to look after your affairs. The court application costs a lot more than the cost of preparing an LPA. In addition, there is likely to be a delay between the court application and the appointment of the deputy. During the delay, friends and family will not be able to access bank accounts to help manage your financial affairs and pay essential bills. That is why it pays to have an LPA in place. An LPA not only gives you and your relatives’ peace of mind it also ensures that health or financial decisions can be taken quickly and bills paid should you lose capacity.
Therefore, a Lasting Power of Attorney is a bit like a Will; everyone needs one even if we all think that we are invincible and will not need the help of friends and family to manage our affairs.
Louise Halford - Evolve Family Law