Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
What is an LPA? A Lasting Power of Attorney or an LPA is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person(s) who you trust to act
Types of LPA You can create two types of LPA: • Property and Affairs LPA A Property and Affairs LPA allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on the way your property and affairs are managed and how your money should be spent. • Health and Welfare LPA A Health and Welfare Welfare LPA allows you to choose someone to make decisions about your healthcare and welfare. This can include decisions to refuse or consent to treatment on your behalf and deciding where you live.
Why is it important to make one? Despite the obvious necessity for protecting their assets many people still wrongly presume that their spouse or partner will automatically be able to look after their finances or personal welfare should they lose capacity or be physically unable to do so themselves.
Whilst it is possible that your spouse assists you with your affairs if you are not able to, companies are increasingly refusing to speak to the spouse or relative without the necessary authority (LPA). Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is a bit like taking out an insurance policy. Hopefully it will never have to be used, but without one you are taking an unnecessary gamble on your life ahead.
If you do lose capacity and do not have an LPA in place then decisions about you and your assets may fall into the hands of somebody you didn’t want or complete stranger.
If you no longer have the mental capacity to look after your own affairs and you do not have an LPA, the Court of Protection will appoint a deputy to manage your affairs for you. This is normally a family member or close friend who will want to assist the individual but it can also be a local authority or even a care home if there is no one else who will act and bills need to be paid.
It is always better therefore to prepare an LPA before a deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection.
Who should you appoint as your Attorney(s)? It is in your best interest to appoint someone you trust and that you know will look after you at a time when you no longer hold the capacity to do so yourself. It can be advisable in certain situations to appoint more than one attorney to prevent abuse of responsibility. You should appoint someone who manages their finances well and will use your money to meet your needs.
How can you prevent potential abuse of power by your attorneys?
Use a legal professional when preparing Powers of Attorney – this will ensure you make an informed decision and that additional safeguards are in place such as:
• Ensuring certified copies of your power of attorney are not released without your consent (your attorneys need certified copies to be able to deal with your assets); • Seeking evidence of lack of capacity if this alleged by your attorneys before certified copies of the power of attorney are released; and • Assisting you with revocation of your power of attorney at any time whilst you have capacity, should relationships change or you generally become concerned about your attorneys.
Need further information?
Please feel free to contact Paul Solomons or Alex Livesey who will be happy to share their specialist knowledge of this area with you during a free initial consultation.