Your control over who makes decisions on your behalf.
In the future you could possibly find a need for someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf, in relation to Property, Financial, Health or Welfare matters. This could be for a number of reasons; whether through age, disability, capacity or even just travelling away from home.
You can secure your future decisions now by choosing people you trust to make these decisions on your behalf in a Lasting Power of Attorney document. The person or persons you choose would be your attorney or attorneys.
No-one automatically has the right to deal with your bank accounts and pensions, or to make decisions about your health and social care if you lose the capacity to do so. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows your chosen attorney(s) to do this.
There are two types of LPA, Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare. These documents have to be granted and signed by you while you have full mental capacity. Before an attorney can act on your behalf, your documents would have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
Without an LPA in place, if you were to lose capacity, the Court of Protection would have to appoint a Court Deputy to deal with your affairs, which could result in fees in the £000’s. Even if you’re married your spouse won’t necessarily be given control over all your affairs without a Power of Attorney.
Using Powers of Attorney for Your Benefit
As we have already established, a Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal tool that allows you to grant certain powers over your financial affairs or your future healthcare choices to a third party. Whether this third party is your partner, a trusted relative or a good friend is entirely your choice, but you should, of course, be sure that you can trust the person in question absolutely. Whilst nobody relishes the thought of relinquishing control of their affairs or their very lives to another person, an LPA enables you to arrange for such control to be passed in an orderly manner to somebody whose judgement you trust completely, rather than leaving everything to chance.
Avoiding Family Feuds
One very good reason to arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney for property affairs is to avoid the possibility of family arguments over who should take responsibility for you in the event that you are no longer able to take responsibility for yourself and your assets. Because an LPA covering your personal property can be tailored to meet your specific requirements, you can hand over as little or as much control as you wish. You can also stipulate under what precise conditions control should pass to your appointed attorney, making an LPA for property affairs a very flexible tool with which to ensure your assets are properly managed.
LPA Property & Financial Affairs (PA)
A Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (PA) takes care of your financial affairs and can be worded to cover your property, bank accounts and other assets. Amongst other things, this means that your chosen attorney can pay your bills and deal with your income if you become incapable.
You can decide when this arrangement is invoked – for example, if you have difficulty getting out of the house or talking on the phone, you can appoint someone to legally act on your behalf in these circumstances, even if you are still as sharp as ever. Alternatively, the LPA might only be triggered when you lack the capacity to make any decision yourself.
LPA Health & Welfare (HW)
A Lasting Power of Attorney (HW) allows you to decide who gets to make decisions on your future care and welfare, and unlike the Property and Affairs element only comes into force when you are unable to make your own decisions. It can cover things like where you will live and what medical care you receive and can include guidance on refusal of life-sustaining treatment.
As with the LPA (PA) we’ll help you decide how to structure it and when to register it with the Office of the Public Guardian so that it becomes a legally binding document. An LPA HW won’t cover management of your financial affairs so if you’ve chosen two different attorneys you will need to tell us whether you want to appoint them to act together or independently.
Ensuring Your Healthcare Wishes Are Respected
We have a great deal of experience with the Health & Welfare LPA and can help you to ensure that all of your wishes are complied with should you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to communicate with healthcare providers due to the seriousness of your condition.
LPAs for businesses
As well as the two Lasting Powers of Attorney mentioned above for the individual, there is also an LPA available if you are a business owner. If this is you, it is important to think about what would happen to your business if you were unable to make decisions.
Who would authorise the payment of bills, sign cheques, service a business loan or pay salaries if something happens to you? Would you hope that a colleague or family member will get authority to act on your behalf? this could take some time to sort during which your business will potentially be at risk.
To protect your business, you may wish to talk to us about a business LPA.
Which of Our Powers of Attorney Services Will Meet Your Requirements?
This is a question we are often asked but because the answer varies depending on each person’s personal and financial situation, it is not a question to which there is a single, definitive answer. If you have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve but you are not sure which legal tools are best suited to your needs, please call and speak to us whenever convenient and we will be delighted to provide you with all the information you need to select the right LPA services for your particular circumstances.
Easy to set up – not easy to overlook
We would always counsel having both types of LPA to ensure your attorneys can fully cater for your needs, whatever situation you find yourself in.
Drawing up an LPA is easy- one of our professionally trained consultants will visit you in your home, workplace or care facility to draw up all the necessary paperwork. You tell us who you’d like to appoint as your ‘attorney’ and in what circumstances. Once signed by all parties, LPA documents need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used although it is not a legal requirement to do so straight away. If a person was to lose mental capacity before their LPAs were registered for use with the Office of the Public Guardian, the proposed attorneys could register the document on their behalf.
To find out more about Lasting Power of Attorney call us on 01603 894500 today