The coronavirus pandemic has focused the minds of many people on how they would like their affairs looked after if they become incapacitated – with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) becoming an increasingly popular choice.
An LPA is a legal document which lets you appoint someone you trust to run your affairs if you lose mental capacity and are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.
Although often used by older people to choose someone to make decisions for them if they lose capacity, they are becoming increasingly popular with people of all ages, and the number of registered LPA’s now stands at more than four million in the United Kingdom.
Catherine Causey, private client law solicitor at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot, outlines the benefits of a lasting power of attorney and explains the consequences for people who lose mental capacity and do not have one in place.
There are two types of LPA:
- a health and welfare LPA, which gives your attorneys the power to make decisions for you about things like where you should live, your day-to-day personal care requirements, your diet, the medical care you want, and whether to continue life-sustaining treatment; and
- a financial LPA, which allows your attorneys to deal with monetary issues on your behalf such as taking care of your bank accounts, managing your investments, paying your bills, applying for benefits, and purchasing and selling your property.
An LPA allows you to stipulate in writing how you would like things to be run while you are out of action, providing guidance to your attorneys and placing any restrictions on them you feel are required.
You can choose family members, friends or professionals to be your attorneys, as long as they are over 18, have mental capacity and are not bankrupt or subject to a debt relief order.
If you select more than one, you can appoint them to act jointly or give them the power to make joint or individual decisions. This latter option provides more flexibility as decisions can still be made if one attorney is not available. If an attorney is appointed on a joint basis only, the LPA cannot be used if they die.
What happens if you do not have an LPA?
If you do not have the relevant LPA in place, there are limitations on how your family and loved ones can help if you should lose mental capacity.
For example, without a financial LPA, your loved ones would need to make an application to the Court of Protection to have a deputy appointed to run your financial affairs. This process can take months and is a much more expensive option than registering a financial power of attorney.
How a solicitor can help
Drafting a lasting power of attorney can be a complicated business. You are strongly advised to seek specialist legal advice to ensure you have considered every angle and that the final documents are legally binding and exactly reflect your wishes.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.