Have you considered what would happen to your financial affairs if you had an accident or became seriously ill? This could happen at any stage of your life. Everyday tasks involving managing your accounts, paying your bills and maintaining your property would become very difficult, if not impossible. It is therefore worth making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) so that you can be sure that the person(s) you trust are able to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which enables you to plan ahead and set out in advance what you would like to happen should you become incapable of managing your affairs in the future. In the LPA, you appoint one or more attorneys who will be able to make decisions on your behalf. An attorney is anyone you choose and trust. He or she must consider your best interests when making a decision on your behalf.
There are two types of LPA:
A Property and Financial Affairs LPA
This gives you attorney the authority to deal with your property and finances, as you specify
A Health and Welfare LPA
This allows your attorney(s) to make health and care decisions on your behalf, only when you lack mental capacity to do so yourself. This could also extend, if you wish, to giving or refusing consent to the continuation of life sustaining treatment.
While you have capacity, it’s vital that you get your affairs in order and choose the best people to manage your affairs, in case of accident or illness. You can’t appoint an attorney once you lose capacity.
Think carefully who you want to appoint as your attorney and have an open conversation with them so they understand your wishes and what their responsibilities will include. Consider appointing more than one person as your attorney so they can share the responsibility.
Consider appointing a professional
A family member may not always be the best person to act as your attorney. Instead, you can appoint a professional such as a Solicitor. They can act as a neutral third party and make unbiased decisions that are in your best interests. Bear in mind this usually involves a cost.
Address the difficult questions
Your attorney might have to make difficult decisions about your health and welfare. If you have specific wishes around your care plans, medical treatment, or end of life wishes ,make sure you discuss this with them and make your choices clear in your LPA.
Seek professional advice
Shop-bought and on line LPA kits may be suitable for those with very straightforward financial situations or with considerable legal experience ,but for most people, seeking professional legal advice is the best way of ensuring that an LPA is effective, legally robust and safe.
Take action now
Michael Swaden and Janet Drake are Full Accredited Members of Solicitors for the Elderly. (SFE) and specialise in Lasting Powers of Attorney.
If you would like to speak to Michael or Janet about making an LPA please contact them on 020 7431 4999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.