If you have not heard of a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’), you are not alone. Research has shown that, of people aged 45 or over who do not already have one, 45% said they had never heard of an LPA, or know nothing about one, and indeed a further 29% said they had heard of it but know little about it.
An LPA enables you, when you have mental capacity, to appoint a specified person or people to deal with your property and financial affairs and/or make health and welfare decisions on your behalf. The ability to deal with these two types of matters are dealt with in separate forms. Once registered, an LPA will allow an attorney or attorneys to manage affairs on your behalf straightaway (if you wish), in the case of a property and affairs LPA, and only after you have lost mental capacity, in the case of a health and welfare LPA.
If you lose capacity, the last thing you obviously need is to be unable to manage your property and financial affairs. You would want someone you trust and can rely on to do this for you, but in the absence of the relevant power of attorney being set up to achieve this, your bank accounts will be frozen and you will be unable to have any access to your money at a time when you may greatly need it. The only way around this under these circumstances is for those people who seek to manage your affairs to apply for a ‘deputyship’ order, which is a process that is a lot more involved, more expensive, and ultimately more time-consuming.
In terms of your health and welfare, should you lose capacity, an LPA setting out your wishes concerning life-sustaining treatment for example or guiding your attorneys as to how they should make important health decisions on your behalf will allow your attorneys to take into account your wishes which you stipulated when you did have capacity.
The things to consider when making an LPA are who your attorney or attorneys will be, who will act as a replacement attorney if your main attorney(s) cannot act for whatever reason, whether you want them to make decisions in terms of only your property and affairs, your health and welfare, or both, and any restrictions or guidance you want to set out in advance to your attorney(s).
The important thing to remember when making an LPA is not to leave it too late. You simply cannot make an LPA once you have lost the capacity to do so. Though it is possible to create LPAs yourself, we would always recommend taking proper legal advice before doing so. Not only can the forms and procedures for applying and registering an LPA appear a little overwhelming, but your solicitor can talk you through the process and get you thinking about important matters to consider before guiding you through the process step-by-step.
This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that any law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.
Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer a range of legal services at the firm’s Stalham and Wroxham offices near North Walsham and Norwich in Norfolk. The firm specialises in areas including family law, conveyancing and private client law including wills and probate. Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer free family law clinics – please call 01692 581231 for further details or to make an appointment.