With increasing numbers of us living well into old age, more and more of us will suffer from dementia or other conditions that can leave us unable to make decisions for ourselves, whether about medical care or our finances.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
That is where Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) come in. An LPA enables you to nominate someone you trust to take important decisions on your behalf if you lose your mental capacity.
Who needs an LPA?
While an LPA might seem like something that only older people need to give serious thought to, the reality is that anyone at any age could fall victim to an accident or illness that takes away their capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Anyone could be in a position where they need someone to make crucial medical decisions on their behalf.
Similarly, anyone with assets or dependents could be in the position where they need someone to make decisions for them.
What kinds of LPAs are available?
There are two forms of LPAs and you can set up one or the other, or both, depending on your preferences and needs.
Health and Welfare LPAs allow the person you nominate as your attorney to make medical and welfare decisions for you.
Meanwhile, Property and Financial Affairs LPAs allow the attorney to make decisions relating to your assets and your finances.
Can’t my spouse, civil partner or next of kin make these decisions anyway?
No. While clinicians will keep your closest relatives informed if you are in hospital, for example, they cannot give consent to treatment or medical procedures on your behalf. They also cannot consent to withdrawing treatment.
Similarly, financial institutions will refuse to deal with anyone other than the account holder, joint account holder or an appointed attorney. It’s also worth noting that some joint accounts can require both or all the account holders to sign for any changes, potentially locking a spouse or partner out of the household income.
Who can I appoint as an attorney?
Anyone over 18 who has capacity can be appointed as an attorney. You can also appoint professionals, such as lawyers or financial advisers, as attorneys.
You can have more than one attorney for each type of LPA and they don’t have to be the same for each type of LPA.
You can also have reserve attorneys who can act where a person you nominate is themselves unable to act on your behalf.
I’ve got an LPA. How often do I need to review it?
As with a Will, you should review your LPA after any significant life event and every two years or so in any event.
Doing this will allow you to make sure that the people you have appointed as attorneys are still appropriate and in a position to act should they need to.
What happens if I lose my capacity without an LPA in place?
If this happens, your loved ones will have no say over medical decisions or access to your finances unless they are appointed as Deputies by the Court of Protection – a potentially time-consuming and expensive process.
In this situation, you would have no say over the person making decisions on your behalf and they might not be someone you would choose or even trust to put in that position.
How do I create an LPA?
We can help you set up LPAs that meet your needs and provide vital protection to you and your family should you lose mental capacity.