Have you thought about what would happen if you were unable to make decisions for yourself?
For instance, who would deal with your financial affairs? Or decide what care and treatment you receive?
It’s difficult to imagine yourself in such a situation. And, understandably, most of us don’t want to contemplate a time when we’re seriously ill. Or lack the mental capacity to make choices.
But it’s important to make plans while you’re healthy. Not only for your own peace of mind, but to save your loved ones potential stress and upset in the long term.
What is lasting power of attorney?
A lasting power of attorney document lets you appoint one or more people (attorneys) to help you make decisions – or make them for you.
It gives them legal authority to act on your behalf if you don’t have the mental capacity or, in some cases, no longer want to make decisions.
There are two types.
Lasting power of attorney for financial affairs lets you appoint attorneys even if you still have mental capacity. It covers decisions on issues like buying and selling property, paying the mortgage and bills, and investing money.
The second deals with decisions about health and care. For instance, where you live, what treatment you receive, what food you eat and what you do with your day. But, it can only be used if you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions yourself.
Why is lasting power of attorney important?
Many people assume their family members will be able to act on their behalf if they’re ever unable to make decisions themselves. But that’s not the case.
If you haven’t drawn up a lasting power of attorney document, a loved one would have to apply to The Court of Protection to be appointed as your ‘deputy’.
But there are potential problems if you go down this route.
For one, they may not be accepted as your deputy. And if they’re not, your local authority would be appointed, which means it would be down to them to make final decisions on your financial affairs and the care you receive. This can result in untold stress and frustration for your family.
Also, a deputy would not have as much say in your decisions as an attorney would. And it also carries a greater cost – a deputy has to pay an annual fee, which can be as much as £2,500.
Make plans now
That’s why it’s important to think about the future now. It may seem like an added burden to arrange in advance and we all think, ‘it won’t happen to me’ but we cannot predict this. Having a lasting power of attorney in place will give you the peace of mind you and your relatives need.
The lasting power of attorney must be signed by someone who can confirm you understand it and haven’t been put under pressure to sign it. It’s then registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
You can download the information pack from the Office of the Public Guardian and fill in the forms yourself. Or you can appoint a specialist solicitor to help advise and guide you on the setting up and registering of it.
PowellsLaw have a dedicated team of experienced professionals who understand how difficult it can be to consider and make these plans for the future. They can provide you with support and advice to ensure you make the right decision for you and have your future properly safe guarded.
If you’d like to find out more on the services available or would just like to discuss your own individual needs please visit our website or get in touch with our private client team on 01934 623 501.