Powers of Attorney are documents used to appoint somebody on your behalf should you lose mental capacity and need to appoint someone to manage your property and financial affairs. This is known as a ‘Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney‘ or LPA for short. They can also be used to appoint someone to act on your behalf to make decisions on your health and well-being as well as decisions on life-sustaining medical treatment (if you wish) which is called a ‘Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney’.
Most people think of losing capacity to mean an illness such as dementia but it can also cover things such as a stroke, illness or accident which are not as predictable.
Some people choose to make both types of these LPAs, whilst others, such as business owners, may find the Property and Finance LPA alone is enough. The Property and Finance LPA allows somebody to manage your bank accounts, investments and property. You can also choose for the appointed person to act straight away or only once you have lost mental capacity giving you an element of control. It is helpful to have the attorneys act straight away in certain circumstances such as if you may be abroad or physically unable to get out and about.
Having the Health and Welfare LPA allows you to make a decision through your attorney on where you live, what care you receive and, if you wish, decisions on any life-sustaining medical treatment. Without this, in place, the doctors and medical staff will ultimately decide what is in your best interests. Whilst this is acceptable if the family and medical staff are in agreement, what happens when there is a conflict of interests between the two? The Health and Welfare LPA will allow the attorney to make decisions reflective of your wishes as opposed to someone else’s.
Another important aspect to consider is who to appoint to take on this role. You should appoint someone trustworthily, consider their age and whether they will be suitable to take on this role and the location of the person. Are they able to practically take on this role if they live far away?
You can also appoint your attorneys to act jointly, that is alongside another attorney and make collective decisions, or jointly and severally where they can act together or on their own.
An LPA needs to be registered before it can be used. This will be with the Office of Public Guardian and it is usually advised to do this once an application is signed, as it can take up to 18 weeks for a registration to be completed.
Having an LPA in place gives you and your loved ones the peace of mind that your finances and medical wishes will be taken care of and the decisions relating to your personal affairs are passed over to the right people.
If you would like more information about making an application for a Power of Attorney, please contact our Private Client Department who can assist you.