By Samatha Cory, 22nd December 2020
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document that allows a person to appoint trusted individuals to make important decisions about their health and welfare and/or their property and finances on their behalf.
Most commonly, Lasting Powers of Attorney are associated with being used in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia. However, this is not always the case. The property and finance Lasting Power of Attorney can be used as soon as the document is registered. A lot of people are now using this document as an important tool to help the more vulnerable or frail. This has become more apparent with the coronavirus pandemic as more people do not feel comfortable leaving their homes.
Loss of mental capacity can occur to anyone and is not limited to dementia. For example, stroke or accident. This is why it is so important for everyone to consider putting these documents in place.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are one of the most powerful and important legal documents an individual can have, because they enable you to pass potentially life-changing decisions about your affairs on to a trusted third party.
Top tips on creating a Lasting Power of Attorney
Plan ahead – While you are able, it’s important that you get your affairs in order and choose the best people to manage your affairs, in the event that you become unable to do so. If you do not have anyone appointed, then your family will have to make an application to the Court of Protection. This can be very expensive and time consuming. Once you have lost mental capacity you cannot make a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Appointing Attorneys – Consider carefully who you want to appoint as your attorney and have an open conversation with them to ensure they are willing to act. You will want your attorney to understand your wishes and what their responsibilities are. Its important to note that your attorney’s main role is to assist you and act in your best interests. It is recommended to appoint more than one person as your attorney so they can share the responsibility.
Professional Attorneys – Sometimes, for whatever reason, a family member might not be the best person to act as your attorney. Individuals can appoint a professional, such as a solicitor. The professional attorney will act as a neutral third party and make unbiased decisions that are in your best interests. It is important to note that this usually involves a cost.
How your attorneys should act – Think about how you would like your attorney to manage your property and financial affairs in different situations. For example, would you want your savings to be invested, under which circumstances are you happy for your property to be sold, if you need care how would you like this to be funded?
Additionally, your attorneys might have to make difficult decisions about your health and welfare. If you have specific wishes around your care plans, medical treatment, or end of life wishes, it is important to have an open and honest discussion with them so that your choices are clear and so that they can follow your wishes.
Seek professional advice – Lasting Powers of Attorney can be completed on a ‘DIY’ basis. However, this can cause a number of issues, not only with having the documents registered correctly but also with being able to use the documents effectively when they are needed. Here at Goughs, our professional private client lawyers are able to give the best advice surrounding the preparation and use of the Lasting Powers of attorney.
Keep your documents up to date – As with a will, you can change your Lasting Powers of Attorney if you want to, provided you have the mental capacity to do so. There is a set procedure to follow as any Lasting Powers of Attorney in place would need to be formally revoked. It is a good idea to you should always review your Lasting Powers of Attorney if circumstances change. Your choices around the people you want responsible for your finances and wellbeing may change, for example an attorney may pass away, your children may reach adulthood, or following a marriage or divorce.
Your Lasting Power of Attorney will die with you - The Lasting Powers of Attorney can only be used during your lifetime. Therefore, it is essential to that you make a suitable Will to ensure that your estate passes according to your wishes on your death.
Get in touch
To arrange a meeting with a member of our Private Client Team, to discuss your requirements, please click here.