Most people have heard of the importance of making a Will to ensure a person’s wishes are met when they pass away, but not everyone has heard of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) and the importance of these documents when caring for a loved one.
LPAs are documents you can put in place which will allow your loved ones, and those who you trust, to take care of your finances and health & wellbeing if you ever become unable to do so yourself.
In her latest article, Chartered Legal Executive, Kat King, discusses why it is important for families to put LPAs in place now.
How many LPA documents are there?
In short, there are two separate LPA documents you can put in place, although you do not have to make both types if you do not wish to do so:
- Property & Financial Affairs – this document deals with financial decisions, i.e., operating bank accounts, making investment decisions, liaising with pension providers, paying bills, buying or selling a property; and
- Health & Welfare – this document deals with decisions regarding matters such as day to day care, medical treatment, what medication should be taken, where you should live, and also includes decisions about life-sustaining treatment.
By making both types of LPAs, families will have the peace of mind of knowing that financial affairs and decisions regarding the health and welfare of a family member will be taken care of should they be unable to make decisions. This does not only relate to elderly relatives, but all family members, young or elderly, should have this ‘insurance policy’ in place should the unexpected happen.
How do LPAs work?
By making LPAs, you get to choose the persons (called Attorneys) who will have the authority to look after your affairs if you are unable to do so yourself. This puts you in control of who those persons are, ensuring only those who you trust and feel comfortable with will be able to act on your behalf.
Under the LPA for Property & Financial Affairs, while you still can make your own decisions, you can ask your Attorneys for help with your financial matters, for example, to sign documents for you or go into the bank on your behalf. Your Attorneys would only take over if you lose the ability to make your own decisions.
With an LPA for Health & Welfare, your Attorneys would only act if you are unable to make health and welfare decisions yourself.
What will happen if I decide not to make LPAs and I lose capacity?
If the LPAs are not in place and you are unable to deal with your own affairs, an application will have to be made to the Court for a Deputy to be appointed to act for you. You will not be able to decide who that person is, and so you could end up with someone who you would not wish to make decisions for you. Deputyship applications are very time consuming (they can take up to six months), expensive, and complicated.
What is the process of putting LPAs in place?
LPA documents have to be signed by you and your Attorneys, and should then be registered by the Office of the Public Guardian (government body dealing with LPAs). LPAs are only valid and ready for use once they have been formally registered.
Although it is not strictly necessary to have LPAs registered straight away, it is highly recommended to do so as soon as the documents have been signed. The reason for this is that the registration process itself takes a long time. Only a few months ago it would normally take 8-10 weeks to have the documents registered. However, due to the increase in demand and Covid-19 delays, in the recent guidance issued by the Office of the Public Guardian, it can now take up to 20 weeks for the documents to be registered.
Imagine you need your Attorneys to start helping you and the documents are not yet registered. This could cause a number of delays, not to even mention how stressful this would be to you and your loved ones.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to have the LPAs prepared and registered while you are absolutely fine dealing with your own affairs, so that the documents are ready if you ever need help.
Peace of mind
Think of LPAs as if they were an insurance policy. Once you have made LPAs, and the documents have been registered, you can simply file them away and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if anything should happen, they are in place to make things easier for you and for your loved ones.
We insure all aspects of our daily lives in case the ‘worst’ should happen, so why not our ability to make decisions?
To discuss making a Lasting Powers of Attorney or if you have any questions, please get in touch with Kat King on 01749 341805 or email email@example.com.