What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and why do I need one?
Lasting Powers of Attorney are legal safeguards that set out guidelines to be followed if you find yourself unable to make decisions in the future. There are two types of LPA: one that deals with health and welfare issues, and one that handles finances and property. Sometimes thought of as a ‘living will’, an LPA protects your interests and ensures that your affairs are managed by people you trust as opposed to having the decisions made for you by the authorities if it becomes too late and you are no longer able to make your own decisions.
There are many reasons why you might need an LPA to come into effect, for example if you become ill or disabled, either temporarily or in the long term, suffer a stroke or head injury, or are unable to make decisions for yourself due to mental illness, substance abuse, or dementia, or simply unable to get to the bank. In these circumstances, the person(s) you have appointed to manage your affairs will be able to follow the guidance in your LPA to carry out your wishes for healthcare, living arrangements and financial decisions.
How does an LPA agreement work?
The person making the power of attorney (the donor) appoints a person or persons (up to a maximum of four) they trust to act on their behalf (the attorney). This could be a family member, friend, or solicitor. An LPA comes into effect as soon as its been registered and you can decide when the financial affairs LPA is used unless you are unable to make decisions for yourself; sometimes the donor will decide they no longer want to make decisions and pass on responsibility to the attorney; sometimes it becomes clear that the donor is unable to understand, process and remember the information they need to make a decision, or communicate their choices.
a Health and Welfare LPA can only be used once you are unable to make your own decisions.
An LPA must be registered before it can be used, and must include authority for the attorney to make decisions on behalf of the donor. You can limit the decisions you allow your attorney(s) to make on your behalf depending on your circumstances.
What does ‘managing affairs’ include?
Depending on the type of LPA (health and welfare or property and finances), an attorney may be required to handle a range of issues on behalf of the donor, such as:
- Looking after bank accounts and savings
- Dealing with investments or other financial affairs
- Buying or selling property
- Claiming and spending benefits
- Dealing with third parties, eg: utility companies, the council, HMRC
- Making decisions about living arrangements and day-to-day personal care
- Making decisions about healthcare, medical treatment, and short or long-term care
Why do I need an LPA?
Lasting Powers of Attorney are just as vital as having a will in place to protect you and your loved ones for unforeseen events in the future. Having an LPA in place means that you can be reassured that your wishes will be followed regarding financial issues and your own healthcare during your lifetime. It also prevents your family members having to deal with sudden difficult decisions without guidance, and reduces the risk of disagreements about sensitive arrangements or issues regarding your estate, care, or end-of-life plans.
To discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney, making a will, and managing probate, get in touch with our experienced, down-to-earth team. It’s our job to take the weight off your shoulders and ensure that you have all the information you need to make the best decisions for your circumstances.
You are never ‘too young’ to make an LPA – the sooner the better.