Have you considered what might happen if, at some point in the future, you lost mental capacity and were unable to look after your own property and financial affairs or even your own care and welfare?
Although it may be something you prefer not to think about, we are now generally living longer and in fact age is not the discriminating factor if illness strikes or an unfortunate accident leads to a brain injuryso it makes sense to put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
By making an LPA, you are able to choose who is to have the legal authority to manage your affairs and speak on your behalf if, in the future, you lose capacity to do so yourself.
An LPA is a legal document where one person (the ‘donor’) gives authority to another person (the ‘attorney’) to look after and manage their affairs because they are either are no longer able to, or they choose not to.
There are two types of LPA:
- A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs covers decisions about money and property.
It can cover amongst other uses:
- Buying and selling property
- Paying the mortgage
- Investing money and looking after savings and pensions
- Paying bills
- Arranging and paying for property repairs
You can restrict the types of decisions your attorney is able to make or you can allow them to make all decisions on your behalf.
- A Lasting Power Of Attorney for Health and Welfare only comes into force if you lose capacity and covers decisions about health and personal welfare.
It includes decisions about medical treatment, where you are cared for and the type of care you receive, as well as day-to-day aspects such as your diet, how you dress and your daily routine. You will also be asked to also choose whether you want your attorney to be able to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment.
If a person is unable to manage their own financial affairs and has not put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney, it becomes necessary to apply to the Court of Protection (the Court) for what is called a Deputyship order. A lengthy application involving a number of detailed forms about the persons finances and the suitability of the person applying have to be prepared and submitted to the Court.
Each time an appointed Deputy seeks to undertake a significant action (such as the sale of the person’s house another application to the Court is required. The costs and timescales are more onerous than the Lasting Power of Attorney alternative. Of course the additional stress and strain on the family when urgent decision may be necessary cannot be underestimated.
We recommend all of our clients put in place Lasting Power of Attorney as a matter of course to avoid the cost and emotional implications of applying for deputyship. However, in the absence of Lasting Power of Attorney being in place and if a loved has become unwell we can advise on the steps to take to apply for deputyship.
For help and advice with matters relating to both Lasting Powers of Attorney and Deputyship please contact us.