It is common knowledge that when you pass away you will require a Will to deal with your estate, but what about if your affairs need looking after on your behalf while you are alive? If you need someone to deal with your affairs on your behalf because you are physically or mentally unable to do so yourself you will require a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for them to do so.
An LPA is a legal document that specifies the person (or people) that you have chosen as those you trust to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are incapable of doing so yourself – your ‘attorneys’.
There are two types of LPA;
A Financial LPA allows your attorneys to deal with all aspects of your finances including the assets you own such as your house.
A Health and Welfare LPA allows your attorneys to deal with all aspects of your medical and social care, your housing needs and anything relating to your personal welfare. This can include making decisions on your behalf about life sustaining treatment if you give them the authority to do so and you are not able to make this decision yourself.
In the absence of an LPA you may come across restrictions with access to your bank accounts, paying bills and dealing with matters regarding your property and you may find that the local authority become involved with your care decisions. You might assume that your partner, spouse or children would have automatic authority on your behalf. This is not the case and the term ‘next of kin’ has no legality when considering these matters.
If you lose the capacity to make your own decisions and you don’t have a valid LPA in place, then someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection to have a Deputy appointed. A deputy appointment can take several months to put in place, during which time your financial affairs cannot be dealt with, and is costly. The court can only appoint health and welfare deputies in extraordinary circumstances. Importantly the Court of Protection chooses and appoints the deputy - not you.
Putting a power of attorney in place is an important safeguard for your future. Whilst you would hope that you will never be in a position where you require the assistance of others, it is much easier for you and those you would wish to assist you, to have it in place in advance, making what can be a difficult time much simpler.
Further information can be found in the ‘Managing Your Affairs’ section of our website.
If you would like assistance in relation to setting up a Power of Attorney, or have any questions, please call 01329 822 333 or email the team.
In the current situation relating to Covid-19 we are able to assist in preparing a Power of Attorney via the phone and email.
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