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Lasting Power of Attorney blog

Lucy Burton from the Private Client Team is the next blogger to tell you more about Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Do I Really Need a Lasting Power of Attorney?

It’s a well know fact that the population is living longer – that’s the good news! Unfortunately, as a result we are seeing more and more cases where ordinary people are unable to manage their own affairs. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. It is therefore becoming even more important for you to decide who you would like to deal with your affairs if you become incapable of doing so yourself.

What is an LPA?

An LPA is a legal document that allows you to give a trusted friend or relative the ability to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity (ie. you become unable to make your own decisions). You can choose more than one person to be your attorney and can choose replacement attorneys to step in if something happens to your chosen attorneys. An LPA can be drafted by our Private Client Team to suit your family circumstances.

There are two different types of LPA. One covers financial decisions and will allow your attorneys to deal with the running of your bank accounts, paying your bills, receiving your pensions and selling your property if the need arises. The other covers decisions about your health and welfare and will enable your attorneys to decide what medical treatment you receive and where you live (such as whether you live in a care home or receive assistance in your own home). You can choose to do both types of LPA or just one.

What Happens If I Don’t Have An LPA?

If you don’t have a financial LPA and you become unable to make your own decisions then the banks will refuse to allow anyone to access your accounts. This may mean that your bills go unpaid or you do not receive the correct pension, for example. It is surprising how quickly your financial affairs can spiral out of control if this happens. If you do not have a financial LPA in place, your family or friends will need to apply to the Court to be appointed as your ‘deputy’ which is very time consuming and extremely costly. Making an LPA ensures that the person who you want to make decisions for you has the power to do so. It prevents a stranger, or someone that you would not necessarily trust, from having this power. A financial LPA can also be used not only in circumstances where you lack the ability to make your own decisions, but also when you are able to make decisions yourself but require physical assistance. An example would be if you were to have a stroke or heart attack and needed someone to physically manage your affairs under your instructions.

If you don’t have a health LPA in place then your family and friends may not have the ability to say where you live or whether you would like certain medical treatment. If you have strong wishes about whether or not you are placed in nursing care and your attorneys are aware of your wishes they will be able to communicate these wishes to health professionals on your behalf. In 2009 it was widely reported in the media that great-grandmother, Betty Fogg, was removed from her home by social services because they did not agree that Betty’s daughter should be able to care for her in a specially converted room at her house. An incident like this could have been avoided if Betty had put a health LPA in place.

When Should I Put LPAs In Place?

There really is no time like the present. You do not have to be old to lose capacity – it can happen to younger people too. LPAs aren’t just useful if you suffer from Dementia either, in fact the families of younger people who have suffered a stroke are often the most relieved when they discover that their relative has put LPAs in place. They are also handy to have in place if you struggle getting about or speaking on the telephone as you get older and you want someone to assist you. You can also cancel your LPAs at any time after you’ve signed them, so they are not set in stone if your circumstances change. There really is no harm in being prepared for the worst.

Who Should I Contact If I Want To Put LPAs In Place?

If you would like more information about how LPAs would benefit you then please contact me or a member of our Private Client Team.