Lasting Power Of Attorney
What Is A Lasting Power Of Attorney
While a Will provides protection to your loved ones and assets after your death, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) provides security for you and your family whilst you are alive. An LPA is an important document that ensures your property, finances and personal welfare is administrated appropriately should you lose your mental capacity through illness, injury or accident. The LPA allows you to appoint a trusted family member or spouse as your attorney to make decisions on your behalf.
What Benefits Come From A Lasting Power Of Attorney
Having a joint bank account with your spouse does not guarantee that they will be able to keep full access to your funds. If you were to be deemed incapable of making financial decisions, whether from suffering a stroke, mental illness or an accident that renders you incapacitated then all your bank accounts would be frozen until a Court appointed deputy is appointed.
If an application has to be made to the Office of Public Guardians or the Court of Protection, it can be a costly and upsetting experience for your family and take up to twelve months to be resolved, which could result in your finances becoming a messy affair. It is not automatically guaranteed that your spouse of partner would be the appointed attorney, which could mean a court official is appointed resulting in expense every time a decision is needed to be made.
With a number of safeguards and conditions in place to allow your LPA to continue in force until your death, you can rest assured your finances and personal welfare will be fully protected for the rest of your life.
Creating A Lasting Power Of Attorney
If you wish to ensure your spouse or partner is your attorney and legally responsible for all your decisions then you still need to be of sound mind when you create your LPA. It will then need to be officially registered with the Office of Public Guardians which can be a timely process. Much like with the writing of your Will, it will be in your best interests not to delay setting up your LPA.
Who knows what will happen to you tomorrow. With a registered LPA in place, you can rest assured that your chosen representative will be able to take immediate action on your behalf should there be an accident or mental illness that results in you being declared incapable of looking after yourself and or your own affairs.
LPA’s are not just used for the elderly, allowing their families to look after them as best as they see fit, however. They are a vital document for anyone who would suffer financially should accident or illness leave them incapable of making their own decisions.
The Office of Public Guardians has several other functions beyond supporting the Public Guardian in the registration of Enduring or Lasting Powers of Attorney, which includes the investigation of abuse or support. You can find more information about them by visiting their official website.
The Two Types Of Lasting Powers Of Attorney
Property And Financial Affairs
This is the most common form of LPA and it’s fairly simple to understand that this type of LPA covers your property and financial affairs. Your finances might include management of investments, bank accounts, daily issues such payment of bills and taxes or collecting benefits or other income. You may decide to appoint more than one representative to maintain your financial affairs. Almost any situation can be catered for, you do not even have to have lost your mental capacity to use an LPA, you may simply have trouble with mobility or using a phone due to hearing loss, in which case you can use an LPA to allow someone to make bill payments, apply for benefits or collect benefits on your behalf.
It’s important to reiterate here that having a joint account does not mean that your spouse or partner will automatically be given responsibility for your affairs and that if you are deemed incapable of making financial decisions your accounts will be frozen, even if in joint names. Your spouse would then need to wait up to twelve months in order to gain access once more, to your accounts. The existence of an LPA for property and financial affairs would protect you and your spouse or partner from the stress this situation could cause.
Health And Welfare
Appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney over your health and welfare means giving your representative legal powers to make decisions for your healthcare, whether that be giving or refusing consent for medical treatment or care.
They would also be responsible for making the best decision for your long-term care; deciding whether the best place for you would be in your within your own home with support from local social services. They may also decide that the best place for your continued care to take place would be in residential care.
You do not need to appoint the same person to act as your attorney for both forms of LPA, so you can make your choices based on who you feel will make the best decisions for you in each situation.
There are laws in place that protect you so that an LPA can not be enforced without you actually being legally deemed incapable.