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Published 11th October 2017 | Probate & Power of Attorney

Lasting Power of Attorney – don’t leave it too late

It can be uncomfortable thinking and talking about what would happen if we lost our mental capacity and had difficulty in making decisions for ourselves. But it is important to consider who we would nominate to make decisions for us, should we ever suffer from a stroke, serious accident or from a disease such as dementia.

Did you know? We have an ageing population and a rise of more than one million dementia sufferers predicted by 2025.

So, what do we do to stay in control of our affairs for now, while still making provisions for the future?

Mrs Green’s case…

Several months ago, Mrs Green came to see us with her daughter to discuss setting up a lasting power of attorney (LPA). At the time Mrs Green, who lived at home on her own, was in the early stages of dementia and was struggling to deal with her finances.

Unfortunately, Mrs Green’s GP said that her dementia was too far advanced, meaning she wouldn’t be able to take out a LPA.

Not long after, Mrs Green became poorly and, after a short spell in hospital, had to move to a home to have extra help with her care. As there was no LPA in place, her property could not be rented out and her bank accounts could not be accessed as nobody had legal authority to deal with them for her. This caused the family a lot of stress and worry at an already difficult time.

Thankfully, Mrs Green’s daughter has now been appointed as her deputy. The family are in the process of selling the house and Mrs Green is in a care home. However, had Mrs Green had an LPA then matters could have been dealt with far quicker and with much less stress.

What is a lasting power of attorney (LPA)?

An LPA is a legal document which allows you to give someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf.

There are two types of LPA. You can have one or both types, and you choose the extent of the attorney’s powers. You can also select different attorneys for each type of LPA, if you wish.

1.     LPA for property and financial affairs

A property and financial affairs LPA allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions about your assets and finances on your behalf.

This person is known as your attorney, and you can empower them to:

  • Pay your bills and mortgage
  • Collect your wages, pensions or benefits
  • Arrange property repairs
  • Buy and sell property
  • Invest money

2.     LPA for health and welfare

A health and welfare attorney makes decisions about your health and living arrangements. You can empower them to make decisions about things such as:

  • Your medical care
  • Where you live
  • What you eat
  • Your day to day schedule (who you see, what you do)
  • You can also decide if you’d like your attorney to be able to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment for you.

A key difference between the two types of LPAs is that the property and financial affairs attorneys can act for you while you still have capacity, but health and welfare attorneys can only act for you when you have lost capacity.

Choosing your attorney

You can choose anyone over the age of 18 to be your Attorney. Many people ask a partner, member of the family or a good friend. It is important that you trust your Attorney to understand your wishes and make the best decisions for you.

Being an Attorney is an immense responsibility, as they have the ability to make potentially life-changing decisions on your behalf. Some people choose to split this responsibility between several people.

What happens if there Is no LPA?

As Mrs Green’s family discovered, without an LPA, family have no automatic right to act on your behalf. They had to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as Deputy (a role which is similar to that of an Attorney, but is more highly regulated and has differences in the scope of authority).

Had an LPA been in place, they would have saved thousands of pounds in legal costs incurred by going to court to gain control. Plus, there is no guarantee that a person will be accepted as a Deputy.  If that happens then the local authority are appointed, giving them the power to make decisions regarding finances and living arrangements.

As Mrs Green’s family can confirm, this process can be extremely stressful and upsetting for everyone involved.

Get peace of mind

Having an LPA in place helps ensure your wishes are followed. It gives the people you trust the right to make choices about your health and welfare, including the ability to refuse life-sustaining treatment and also look after finances.

How we can help

At Osborne Morris & Morgan we can help you with all stages of putting an LPA in place.

For a confidential, obligation-free discussion contact a member of our friendly, experienced team on 01525 378177 or email us on info@ommlaw.co.uk

Please note that names have been changed in this article to protect the privacy of our clients.
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