Many people recognise the importance of having a Will in place to ensure that their affairs are properly in order when they die. However, fewer people are aware of the value of powers of attorney and the consequences if you do not have them in place.
When properly drafted, Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs) can last your lifetime and allow you to choose who you would want to help manage your affairs in the event that you no longer wanted to yourself or were unable to do so as a result of mental incapacity.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) – Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare. A property and financial affairs LPA gives your attorneys the legal authority to manage your bank accounts and investments, pay your bills and if necessary, sell your property.
A Health and Welfare LPA gives your attorneys the legal authority to make decisions about all aspects of your health and welfare in the event that you were unable to. This might include big decisions such as where you live and receive medical treatment or more intricate decisions such as what you wear and the types of food you eat. It also gives you the option to confer authority on your attorneys to consent or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment on your behalf.
It is possible to place restrictions on your attorneys and to leave them guidance in the LPA documents. It is essential that you receive the right advice in relation to this to ensure that your LPAs are workable and that you are not inadvertently preventing your attorneys from being able to make a decision on your behalf.
As well as giving careful thought to your choice of attorneys and replacement attorneys, you must also choose a certificate provider who is someone who signs the LPA to confirm that you have the capacity to understand the content and implications of making an LPA. You will also need to nominate a person to be notified when your LPA is registered. We can advise you of the purpose of these requirements and who might be a suitable choice depending on your individual circumstances.
In order to allow your attorneys to act under your LPAs they must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. We can deal with the registration process for you and ensure that the appropriate people are given notice of the registration. We often recommend that registration takes place once the LPAs have been drawn up but some people choose to register theirs at a later date. Therefore, if you are looking to register an LPA for a relative or friend we can help you through the process.
Lasting Powers of Attorney can only be prepared whilst you are mentally capable and so it is never too early to come and discuss making an LPA with us.
If no LPA has been put in place for a friend or relative of yours and they lack mental capacity you might need to consider a Deputyship application.
For more information, contact one of our specialists.