There may come a time in the future when you become unable to deal with your own affairs. It is important that you appoint someone who will have the legal ability to act on your behalf if a situation were to arise. A lasting power of attorney (LPA) gives someone else the power to make certain decisions on your behalf. This is typically if you are no longer able to do so. Drawing up a lasting power of attorney gives you the opportunity to decide who you would like to do this. It also allows you to include any particular wishes or restrictions.
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Many people either choose not to think about it, or incorrectly assume that their partner or close relatives would have authority to make decisions. Sometimes people are tempted to think that they will make a Lasting Power of Attorney when it’s needed. But an accident or illness could strike without warning and then it may be too late to make one.
Key questions to ask yourself (or your elderly relative) are:
You can choose to draw up a property and financial affairs LPA, a health and welfare LPA, or both. A property and financial affairs LPA allows your attorney to make financial decisions for you. A health and welfare LPA can only be used to make decisions for you if you lack the mental capacity. This can include care decisions or how you are treated medically including life sustaining treatment.
If you have an enduring power of attorney (EPA) this would have been made prior to 2007. Although it is no longer possible to make a new EPA, valid EPAs remain effective. We can also help with registering Enduring Powers of Attorney. It is important to know that an attorney appointed through an EPA does not have the power to make decisions regarding health and welfare.
It is important to choose attorneys that are willing, have the appropriate skills to make the decisions and are trustworthy. The same person can act on your behalf for both types of LPAs, or you can have two different people to take care of each area individually. This will give you peace of mind to know that if a situation does arise, your decisions will be made as you would want them to be. You can appoint more than one attorney and you can decide how they act whether together or together and separately. You may also choose to appoint a replacement attorney.
It may be useful to share this guide with your proposed or appointed attorney: Guide to being an Attorney.
The LPA needs to be registered with the Office of Public Guardian before your attorneys can use it. The registration process can take up to two months providing there are no issues with the document. Therefore it is vital to register it immediately so that it is ready to be used should it be required.
To discuss drawing up a lasting power of attorney or to find out more information please contact one of our inheritance protection team below. If the person who needs an attorney lacks mental capacity to make a LPA, then we can help with an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputy to be appointed.