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.
Existing Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA)
Any EPA, validly made before 1st October 2007, can still be used but only in respect of your property and financial affairs. If you wish to give authority over your health or welfare, you will need to make a Health and Welfare LPA.
The importance of taking action now
You can only make an LPA whilst you have capacity to understand the nature and scope of the LPA.
What happens if you have not made an LPA or EPA?
If you lose capacity and have not made an LPA then it may become necessary for a relative or friend to apply to the Court of Protection, where the Court will decide whether or not to appoint him or her to make decisions on your behalf.
Although the Court endeavours to appoint somebody who would act in your best interests, you could potentially have somebody managing your affairs who you would not have chosen had you had capacity. It could even be someone you don’t know and not necessarily a family member. An application to the Court can also be time consuming and costly .It may be months before somebody is able to access your finances which can be very stressful for your relatives and friends who may end up spending their own money trying to pay your bills whilst waiting for a Court Order.
To avoid this we suggest that you put in place an LPA as soon as you can.
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 0207 431 4999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.