She has a wealth of experience and expertise and regularly deals with large and complex estates, but she has a particular interest in the protection that lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) can offer. Anne says: “LPAs play a vital part in planning for your family’s future. They give you the ability to decide who can control your financial affairs or issues relating to your health and welfare should you become unable to do so.”
Two types of lasting power of attorney
There are two types of LPA – a property and financial affairs LPA and a health and welfare LPA. Both enable you (the donor) to give someone else (the attorney) the legal right to deal with your affairs should you not be able to. Both types of LPA must be set up whilst you have mental capacity, but the health and welfare LPA can only be used once you have lost capacity, whereas with a property and affairs LPA, you can give control to someone before you become incapacitated if you wish to do so.
An attorney is under obligation only to act in your best interests at all times, and various safeguards exist to ensure this. When making your personal welfare LPA, you can exercise a great deal of control. For example, you can specify whether your attorney can decide who you have contact with when you lose capacity or whether they can consent to, or refuse, life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatment.
Don’t leave making an LPA until you are older
Anne says: “Many people think of LPAs as something that you don’t need to think about until you are older, but this simply isn’t true. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently over 850,000 people in the UK with dementia and 40,000 of those are under 65. The society says that by 2025 over 1 million people will have the disease. However, it isn’t only dementia that causes loss of capacity: other diseases and accidents can also lead to incapacity and the inability to make decisions about your own life. If you were affected in this way, wouldn’t you rather make sure that someone you trust and love makes decisions about your money and your health?”
Involve your family as attorneys
When making an LPA, you can choose one or more attorneys and you can decide if they are to make decisions individually or jointly. They must be aged 18 or over, not bankrupt and willing to take on the responsibility – and take it seriously. Attorneys can be family, friends or professionals, such as solicitors. Many people choose to ask their family members to become attorneys and Anne says: “This is a very real way of involving the whole family in your future and making sure they work together for your wellbeing, rather than involving external bodies such as social services. Generally, your family knows you better than anyone else and hence will know how you would want your finances or your health to be managed. One of the main benefits of writing an LPA is that you are in control of who you appoint to make these very important decisions so that your wishes are carried out properly and quickly. If you don’t have an LPA in place when you become incapacitated, an application will have to be made to the Court of Protection, and that can be an expensive and long drawn out process. It might also mean that your assets are locked down until permission is granted by the court, which can cause substantial difficulty for your family who may have to pay for your care.”
Please contact Anne or one of our team to make an appointment to discuss your LPA needs or find out more on our website pages.