When should you create a Lasting Power of Attorney?

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document in which you, as the ‘Donor’, give power to one or more people, known as ‘an Attorney or ‘Attorneys’ to handle your affairs if you are incapable of doing so or if you instruct them to do so whilst you are still capable.

There are two different kinds of LPA, one for property and financial affairs and the other for health and welfare. You can choose one of these options or both of them, and you can choose to appoint the same Attorneys for both types of LPA or appoint different Attorneys for each document. 

For example, your daughter may be very well versed in dealing with financial institutions such as banks, she may therefore be a natural choice as an attorney for property and financial affairs in order to look after your money and investments, pay bills, set up direct debits etc. Your daughter may, however, live abroad and you may therefore want to appoint your son to act jointly with her so that he could pop into the bank or a solicitors if required or go to a cash point and withdraw funds for you under your instructions if you were bed bound but still capable of making decisions..  

You can also have replacement attorneys, for example, your son may live locally and therefore be a natural choice as your attorney for health and welfare so that he can collect your prescriptions, attend doctors appointments with you or be at your hospital beside quickly in an emergency and make a decision regarding life sustaining treatment if your LPA gives him authority to do so

You could also appoint one or more replacement attorneys, for example, if  your son was ever unwell himself or if he predeceased you, you may want to appoint your granddaughter as a replacement attorney for a health and welfare LPA if she also lived locally.  Alternatively, you may wish to appoint your daughter who lives abroad as, despite her perhaps not being able to be by your side straight away, she could have meaningful conversations with your doctors about your treatment and care from afar using modern day technology.

The person selected to serve as an Attorney is typically a member of the family or a close friend, however, as long as they are ready to take on the duty of being an Attorney which above all involves acting in your best interests, you can select any adult above the age of eighteen to serve as your LPA. In some circumstances, you might decide to hire an expert, such as a Solicitor or an Independent Financial Advisor..

Reasons you may need a Lasting Power of Attorney

When an LPA is registered at the Office of the Public Guardian, it can be utilised  Age-related dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is the most frequent justification for using an LPA, however there are other causes as well:

  • Accidents which lead to a severe brain injury;
  • Serious mental illness;
  • A stroke, which causes injury to the brain;
  • Physical injuries or illnesses where you may feel too unwell or lack the energy to do certain tasks for yourself and therefore wish to instruct your Attorney to deal with matters on your behalf.

You can decide if your attorneys should represent you solely in cases where you no longer have mental capacity, which is the capability to evaluate information and make reasoned decisions. 

Alternatively they can begin representing you as soon as your LPA is registered, even if you still have capability.  

Many people who are physically unable to get out and about ask their attorneys to assist them before they have lost mental capacity so that their attorneys can run errands for them or help them with online banking if perhaps they find computers a little daunting.  

Some people also struggle with their hearing as they get older and therefore ask their attorneys to deal with organisations over the phone on their behalf in relation to either their finances, or health or both!

When should you put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place?

Many people think that they have all of the time in the world in which to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, unfortunately that may not be the case.  

You can only make an LPA when you have sufficient mental capacity to be able to decide who it is you wish to appoint as your Attorneys and the reasons why.  It is therefore never too early to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, for instance if you were to develop Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia or even if you were suddenly in a terrible accident rendering you unconscious for a period of time, however long that may be, you would not be capable of making the decision to create an LPA once you have lost mental capacity.  It is therefore imperative that you put an LPA in place before you have lost the ability to do so.

Any person who is at least eighteen years old and is deemed to have the necessary mental capacity at the time may legally create an LPA. This must be verified in England and Wales by a professional, such as a medical professional or solicitor, or by a third party who is not a member of the family and has known you for at least two years.

If you do not put LPAs in place before losing capacity, it could mean your loved ones applying for Deputyship with the Court of Protection in order to be able to make decisions about your finances, property, health and welfare which is often a protracted and expensive process. Your affairs would be in uncertainty until a Deputy is appointed and the Deputy may not be the person you would have chosen had you had capacity.  

Appointing an Attorney you know and trust by drafting and registering a Lasting Power of Attorneys sooner rather than later can ensure that your wishes will be met, and your best interests put first, as well as making an already difficult time less stressful for your loved ones.

Lasting Power of Attorney guidance from Black Norman

Without an LPA, you may encounter major challenges if tragedy occurs, and you are left without mental competence. Your financial and welfare concerns might both be left unresolved while the Court of Protection considers your case, which would be unfortunate because this is precisely the period when you need solutions.

Our specialist Lasting Power of Attorney Solicitors here at Black Norman are highly experienced in this area, and can advise you and your family regarding your specific circumstances with the utmost compassion.

To speak to one of our Solicitors, please use the contact form or call 03300 167 847.