In an uncertain world it is reassuring to know that our wishes will be respected even if we are not in a position to make our own decisions. That is why many people choose to create a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA,) to provide protection should an accident or ill health prevent them from making decisions in the future. It isn’t just for the elderly, sadly an accident or illness can happen at any time in your life.
What is an LPA?
An LPA is a legal document that allows another person (an attorney) to make decisions about your health and welfare and your property and financial affairs on your behalf. Appointing an attorney before you actually need one gives you the peace of mind that your affairs will be managed how you want them to be.
It is not possible to create an LPA once you’re unable to make your own decisions so if you think you would like an LPA; it’s something that you should consider putting in place as soon as possible.
There are two different types of LPA depending on what areas of your life you would like an attorney to have control of:
Money and Property matters: (Property and Financial). This would enable the person or people you have chosen to pay bills, open and close bank accounts, sell your property and make investments when you no longer wish to or are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Your attorneys can make decisions for you as soon as the lasting power of attorney is registered, both when you have mental capacity and when you lack mental capacity unless you put a restriction in the LPA.
Health and Personal Welfare: (Health and Welfare). This would enable the person or people you have chosen to make decisions, when you have lost capacity, regarding your healthcare and medical treatment, decisions about where you live, who visits you and day-to-day decisions about your personal welfare, such as your diet, dress or daily routine. You can also give your attorney the ability to make life sustaining treatment decisions on your behalf or say that you do not wish them to have that authority
For your own peace of mind and protection for the future, making an LPA while you still have the mental capacity to do so, ensures your affairs are managed as you wish.
- Choose who you want to act for you as attorney
- Choose more than one attorney and decide how you would like them to act
- Choose whether you would like to appoint a replacement attorney if your chosen attorney is unable to act for you
- Limit the attorney’s power if there is anything you do not want them to make decisions about or allow them to make all decisions on your behalf
- Give guidance to your attorney as to how you would like your affairs to be managed.
Who Can Be an Attorney?
Your attorney should be a responsible person you know and trust. It is very important to think carefully about who to appoint. Think about who you can trust to make decisions for you, whether the person is reliable and has the skills needed to carry out the role. As remember, when acting under the Property and Finance LPA, the attorney can treat your property and money as if it were their own.
When choosing your attorney(s), they must be 18 or over, not have been declared bankrupt and have mental capacity.
An attorney could be a family member, a friend, your spouse, partner or civil partner or you could ask a professional such as an accountant or solicitor. We are happy to act as a Property and Finance attorney, if there is no one else to do so.
An attorney must:
- Act in your best interests at all times
- Consider your past and present wishes
- Not take advantage of you to benefit themselves
- Keep all of your money separate from their own.
If you haven’t put an LPA in place and you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions, your assets may be frozen. Without an LPA, no one has permission to manage your affairs. An application will need to be made to the Court of Protection for a “Deputy” to be appointed and this may not necessarily be someone you would have wished. This can be an expensive and lengthy process with Court fees needing to be paid annually. We have a dedicated Court of Protection team who can help and guide you through this process.
At QualitySolicitors Moore & Tibbits, we can help with all aspects of creating an LPA - from choosing an attorney and deciding what type of LPA is right for you to correctly registering the documentation with the Office of the Public Guardian.
If you’d like to find out more, please give one of our experts a call today on 01926 491181. With our free initial assessment promise you can have an initial chat free of charge.