Why are Lasting Powers of Attorney so important?

The last few months have left many of us feeling uncertain about our future. The emergence and rapid escalation of COVID-19 has, amongst other things, made us all rethink the precautions we have in place to protect our assets.

A Lasting Powers of Attorney is a precaution you can put in place right now that will allow your loved ones and importantly people you trust to take care of you and your finances if you become unable to do so yourself. Who would not want that peace of mind?

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document which allows you to appoint someone (an Attorney) to make decisions on your behalf.

There are two different types of LPAs:

  • 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 medical treatment, what medication should be taken, where you should live, and also includes decisions about life-sustaining treatment.

Dispelling the misconceptions about LPAs

There are a number of misconceptions about LPAs that put people off making an LPA. These include:

I will lose control of my affairs as my Attorneys will be able to take over and make decisions on my behalf even if I still have capacity, and I don’t want them to do that.

This is not true. While you still have capacity, your Attorneys can only act if you ask them to do so, and with your consent. Only if you lose the ability to make your own decisions, your Attorneys would take over making decisions for you.

It is also important to mention that Attorneys can only act in your best interest, and you should only appoint people who you trust.

I don’t have to worry about making LPAs, as my spouse/partner/children will be able to sort matters out for me.

Your family will not have the legal authority to make financial decisions for you unless LPAs are in place. This is the case even with joint bank accounts – only an LPA can give you the authority to access and make decisions about joint accounts.

The same applies to decisions about your health and welfare. So that someone can make medical decisions for you, and ensure your wishes regarding your health and welfare are carried out, they must have the legal authority to do this.

I am too young to make an LPA. I will do this at a later date, when I think I need them.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with this statement. However, it is risky to leave such an important decision until it may be too late.  LPAs can only be made if you have mental capacity.  If, for whatever reason, that capacity is lost, you will not be able to make LPAs.

Instead, an application would have to be made to the Court for a Deputy to be appointed. Deputyship applications are very time consuming, expensive, and complicated.

Additionally, you would have no say in the choice of the Deputy, so you could end up with someone who you would not wish to make decisions for you.

If you do leave making LPAs until such time that they are required (and you have the necessary mental capacity to put them in place), you will need to wait a good few months for the documents to be ready for use – LPAs need to be registered with the Court to be valid, and the registration process itself usually takes 8-10 weeks. Therefore, you risk delaying your Attorneys being able to help you.

Think of LPAs as if they were an insurance policy – if you put them in place now, they will be ready for use in the future if they are required, avoiding your or your family’s stress and worry at the time.

It is complicated to make LPAs

Making LPAs is a very important decision and the choice of the Attorneys should be considered carefully, but seeking professional advice will ensure you are guided and assisted throughout the process.

There are a number of matters which need to be contemplated, which is why an expert should be consulted to give you the advice and insight in order to assist you in making the right decisions.

Once LPAs have been made, they cannot simply be amended – they would have to be cancelled, and new LPAs made.  Moreover, the Court charge a registration fee for each document registered, and if a mistake is made, the Court will charge the registration fee each time the application is made. Therefore, it is vital to ensure the documents are prepared correctly, which Solicitors will be able to arrange for you.

If you want to take control over your life and future and make Lasting Powers of Attorney, please get in touch with Kat King on 01749 341805 or email kat.king@mogersdrewett.com

Mogers Drewett

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