Most of us probably agree that it’s important to have the right to make our own decisions about important aspects of our lives such as our medical care and our financial assets. While we all hope that we’ll be able to make these decisions for ourselves, this can sometimes become impossible – if you lose the ability to communicate or your mental capacity deteriorates, for instance.
While it may be unpleasant to imagine, facing up to that discomfort gives you the chance to make sure that your wishes continue to be followed. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) lets you choose a trusted individual to manage your affairs when you are unable or unwilling to do so. Being married to somebody, or being their blood relative, is not enough to give them the right to make many important decisions: you need an LPA in place.
In order to make a Lasting Power of Attorney you’ll need to be over the age of 18; you also need to have mental capacity. You don’t need to be British Citizen. The same criteria will also apply to the person that you choose to give lasting power of attorney.
There are two types of LPA, and the both fulfil different purposes. You can choose to make only one, however in order to be fully covered you may wish to make both.
A Health and Welfare LPA gives your attorney the ability to make decisions about your medical and social care if you have lost your mental capacity, including
Your medical care
Who you should have contact with
Your social activities
Where you live
If you want to give your attorney the ability to make decisions about life-saving treatment then this also possible, however you will need to state it directly.
A Property and Financial Affairs LPA can be used when you still have your mental capacity if you are unable to manage your affairs for other reasons. However, you do have the option of stating that it should only be used if you do lose mental capacity. You can choose what you want it to cover from a range of different options, including decisions surrounding
Buying and selling property
Dealing with utility bills and bank accounts
Repairs and renovations
Taking on the responsibilities of an attorney is a big responsibility, so it’s important that you think carefully about who you choose. In many cases people will choose their spouse or long-term partner, although this is not obligatory.
The most important thing is that you choose somebody who you trust to both follow your wishes wherever possible and to make wise decisions of their own where necessary. Rather than rushing through the process, we would recommend having an in depth conversation with the person before going ahead.
It is also possible to appoint multiple attorneys, different attorneys to be responsible for different things, or a replacement attorney who would take on the role if your original attorney becomes incapable.
Setting up an LPA can be a lot to think about, but onc you have worked out the details it can also be a big relief – and if the time comes that you need it, it can save a lot of time, worry and money.
Want to get your Lasting Power of Attorney sorted? Our Estate Planning team are on hand to help you through the process without any hassle or stress.
These pages give a general overview of the issues surrounding estate planning and are based on our understanding of the current law and tax regulation in England and Wales, which may be subject to change.
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