Why it’s important to consider setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney
Whilst it’s commonly associated with the elderly, setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) can prove beneficial for many people – as unfortunately, they are often needed in situations that can’t have been previously predicted, such as becoming very ill or having an accident meaning you require help managing your affairs. In this article, we’ll explain in more detail the two different types of Lasting Powers of Attorney and their benefits.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why are they beneficial?
It’s commonly believed that if something were to happen to you, your next of kin or closest loved ones would automatically be able to make health, welfare and financial decisions on your behalf if you were unable to do so, but this is not the case in many situations.
If you don’t have an LPA in place and you become incapable of making decisions for yourself, then the courts will have to appoint a deputy to make decisions regarding your healthcare and finances. It is also at the courts’ discretion how much power over decisions a deputy is given. If your loved ones want to apply for a deputyship, it can cost a lot of money and be a lengthy and stressful process to attempt to obtain deputyship, leaving nobody able to deal with your affairs in the meantime.
A Lasting Power of Attorney however, is a legal document that lets you (known as the ‘donor’ on the document), prepare for any future event, which may leave you needing assistance with making decisions regarding your healthcare and finances. The documents enable you to appoint one or more people to act as your ‘attorneys’ – this enables your chosen person/s to help you make decisions, or to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
This gives you the option to plan for the future, whatever may happen, to protect yourself and your family and have more control of what happens to you and your financial affairs in situations where you are too ill or lack the mental capacity to deal with matters or make decisions yourself. Having LPAs in place can also help to reduce conflict in the event you are unable to express your wishes, as you can clearly state what your wishes are with regards to your health and finances within your documents should you lose capacity, if you wish to do so.
To be eligible to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney though, you must be 18 or over and have mental capacity at the time of making your LPA. You also have to pay a fee to register your LPA document for it to be legally valid, unless you qualify for an exemption or reduction.
What are the two types of Lasting Powers of Attorneys?
There are two different types of LPAs available to make, and you can choose to set up just one type or both. The two types cover:
- Health and welfare – this LPA allows your attorney(s) to make decisions about things such as your day-to-day life, i.e. washing, dressing, eating, your medical care and whether to make the decision to move into a care home or obtain life-sustaining treatment. Even if you have a health and welfare LPA set up, the Attorney(s) can only act at the point of you being unable to make your own decisions.
- Property and financial affairs – this LPA allows your attorney(s) to make decisions about money and property on your behalf. For example, managing your bank or building society accounts, making bill payments, collecting your benefits or pension, selling your house etc. Unlike the health and welfare LPA, Attorney(s) can act on your behalf as soon as the LPA is registered, as long as they have your permission within the document. This can be useful in situations where you are struggling to manage your financial affairs but still have the mental capacity to do so, for example, if you are physically too unwell to go and collect your pension or go to a bank.
How to apply for an LPA
You must submit application forms to register an LPA with the Office of The Public Guardian before it can be used. It’s important your forms are filled out and signed correctly as thousands of applications each year do get rejected due to avoidable mistakes being made on the forms, yet fees will still be charged.
Although it is not a legal requirement to use a solicitor to help you set up an LPA, it is common for solicitors to help with advising clients about LPAs and assisting with submitting applications to ensure there are no mistakes. Many clients also choose to set up or renew their Will at the same time they register LPAs, to ensure their wishes would be met in all possible future circumstances.
If you would like advice or help with a LPA or Wills matter, please speak to our specialist team who would be happy to help. Call 01484 442 700 (Holmfirth), 0161 427 0084 (Marple Bridge) or email email@example.com.
Written by Carol-Anne Baker