Don’t be caught out: the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney

If the last 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that we can never predict what’s around the corner. Who would have thought that the world would face the catastrophic consequences that Covid has brought on it? With so many people not just losing their loved ones, but many facing long-term incapacity.

It’s another reminder that it’s never too soon to get our affairs in order and not leave it to the last minute when it could be too late.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), particularly between spouses, give peace of mind that decisions will be made in your best interests and by those you trust giving them the authority to act for you in the event you’re unable to. Without at LPA in place, someone will have to make an expensive and time-consuming application to the court to act on your behalf.

So, what are they?

There are two types of LPA – one which deals with your Property & Finances, and one which deals with your Health and Welfare. You can have either or both types of LPA.

The finances LPA allows your financial affairs to be handled by your nominated ‘attorney’ or ‘attorneys’ – always someone you trust – family member, close friend or professional adviser. They can then help with paying bills, selling your property or investments and operating your bank accounts.

The health LPA allows decisions to be made about your medical treatment, diet and where you live. Unlike the LPA for property and financial affairs, this can only be used when you have lost the mental capacity to make decisions yourself.

Whichever LPA you have, your attorney must act within the law and in your best interests – it’s not a free for all to run all aspects of your life and you can always let your attorneys know what your wishes are when drawing up the LPAs. You should also be consulted by your attorneys, where possible, about decisions they are making while they are acting under the LPAs.

What’s the process?

It’s never nice to be reminded of our own mortality, but putting an LPA is a relatively simple process and certainly preferable to the alternative of trying to gain access to affairs following impairment.

As long as you have an independent and impartial ‘certificate provider’ such as your GP who has known you for more than two years, then the LPA can be registered at any time – taking the ‘what if’ worry off your shoulders.

Seeking legal advice is the first port of call armed with the answers to these questions:

  • Which type of LPA do you want to make?
  • Who will act as your attorneys?
  • If you have more than one attorney, how will they work together to make decisions?
  • Do you want your attorney to make financial decisions while you are still mentally capable?
  • Do you want to authorise your attorney to make decisions about life sustaining treatment?
  • Do you want to place any extra restrictions on what the attorneys can do?
  • Do you want to specify any preferences to your attorneys?
  • Do you want anyone to be notified when your LPA is about to be registered? If so, who?
  • Who will act as your certificate provider(s)?
  • Do you want to register your LPA immediately?

For more information please contact Gavin Smith.