Lasting Powers of Attorney by Helen Greenwood & Elizabeth Groom
POWER IN YOUR HANDS - Lasting Powers of Attorney
It is a fact of life that, as a nation, we are living much longer. Inevitably, therefore, more and more of us will suffer a period of physical and mental incapacity later in life. There are an estimated 800,000 people in the UK with dementia and this will rise to over a million by 2021. But are people taking practical steps at the right time to help relatives cope when they can no longer make financial or personal decisions for themselves?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that authorises trusted family members, friends or professional individuals (attorneys) to act in one’s place. There are two types:-
(1) A Property & Financial Affairs LPA gives your attorney power to sell your property, sign cheques for you, withdraw cash from your account and pay your bills and care home fees. (2) A Health & Welfare LPA gives your attorney power to make decisions such as where you will live, what care you will have and whether or not you will receive medical treatment. This type of LPA can be particularly useful where family circumstances are less than straightforward, and where you do not necessarily wish for your next of kin to be involved in welfare or medical decisions about you – or you wish to appoint your unmarried partner, whose legal rights to be involved in your medical and care decisions are limited.
If you have an old style Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) made before 1 October 2007, this remains valid. However, if you start to lose mental capacity to manage your finances, your attorney(s) is(are) under a duty to register your EPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
Making an LPA can seem complicated and expensive, but if you have not appointed an attorney before you lose your mental capacity, it is too late to do so and you will leave your relatives with much more difficult and costly options. In England and Wales, they will have to go to the Court of Protection and apply for someone to be appointed as a deputy to run your affairs. This takes longer and costs more and the deputy is always subject to supervision by the court.
Your LPA may never be needed, but if it is, your family will be thankful you were prepared. LPAs are important documents and it is wise to seek assistance from a specialist lawyer. Rowberry Morris has been established for over 60 years and features in the Legal 500, a guide to the top 500 UK law firms. For further information please contact Helen Greenwood or Elizabeth Groom