Lasting Powers of Attorney
In life, we are confronted by a variety of challenges, including unforeseen and sometimes life-changing accidents or illness, or simply as we become older and can’t do the things we once could. Such events can have an overwhelming impact not only on the individuals directly affected, but also on the family or friends caring for them.
Caring for someone who has lost capacity is made more difficult without the necessary legal authority to manage the individual’s financial affairs or make decisions regarding their health and welfare, should the person lose the ability to make those decisions for themselves.
Which is why, whilst you are still able to do so, you can grant one or more people the power and authority to make decisions on your behalf should you find yourself incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. This is a legal document known as a ‘Lasting Power of Attorney’ (LPA).
Without it, those caring for you would have to rely on alternative documents and procedures, which can be more complex, time consuming and costly (see here for more information about the Court of Protection and Deputyships).
There are two distinct types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
- Property and Financial Affairs LPA: this gives someone legal authority to access or make decisions about another person’s financial affairs. For example, if a loved one is in hospital for a long period of time or has lost their mental capacity, a Property and Affairs LPA could enable you to operate their bank accounts, pay their bills and deal with their state benefits. Without an LPA in place, you would instead have to apply to the courts for authority to act. This can be a costly and time consuming process, whilst the outcome could fail to reflect the wishes of the person you were looking to protect.
- Personal Welfare LPA: this gives someone legal authority to make welfare and healthcare decisions on behalf of a person who has lost the capacity to do so for themselves. These decisions can cover, for example, where and with whom an individual should live, and aspects of their day-to-day care and medical treatment.
Creating and registering your LPA
We can help you to draft a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, a Personal Welfare LPA, or both. In each case, you need to nominate someone (or multiple people) who you want to look after your affairs (known as an ‘attorney’), and decide whether they must act together or can act independently. Attorneys are often family members or close friends, but they can also be a solicitor, known as a professional attorney. You can nominate successors who will take over if your nominated attorney(s) can no longer act for you.
We’ll help you to carefully prepare an LPA that passes responsibility to loved ones in a way that truly reflects your wishes and mitigates your key concerns. This involves working with you to decide and document which powers you want to delegate and – equally importantly – which you don’t. This includes determining whether your nominated attorney(s) should be permitted to operate your bank accounts, deal with your investments and tax affairs, buy and sell property on your behalf, or make decisions regarding your medical treatment. We then register your signed LPA to make it valid and legally binding.
It’s important to note that you will retain the right to cancel your LPA at any time whilst you continue to have mental capacity, and your nominated attorney(s) can only act in accordance with the LPA if you do subsequently lose capacity, so there’s no harm in preparing one well in advance to give you peace of mind that your affairs will be in the hands of some you trust should you ever find yourself lacking the capacity to express or enforce your own wishes.
Appointing a professional property and financial affairs attorney
A professional attorney is usually appointed when there is no willing or suitable family member, or friend, to take on that responsibility. In those circumstances you can appoint an attorney at Davey Law to manage your property and financial affairs for you.
We can work closely with you, as well as your family, friends and carers if you wish, to deal with the management of your personal affairs. Alternatively, you can leave everything in our hands, contacting you only as often as you wish.
We will deal with all your day to day finances, investments and property matters, meaning you won’t have the burden of dealing with financial correspondence, paying your bills, insuring your property, or worrying about any other aspect of your finances. But rest assured that we will consult and update you regularly, and you can contact us at any time with any questions or concerns.
What is an Advance Decision?
You may not want anyone else to make decisions for you regarding your welfare and medical care, and may prefer to record your own decisions in advance, for example regarding refusal of medical treatment. To do so, you would need to put in place an Advance Decision.
Before October 2007 Advance Decisions or ‘Living Wills’ were used as guidance by medical practitioners but were not legally binding. Now, if correctly drafted, an Advance Decision is legally binding upon anyone treating you. It is important that the document is clear and specific and anyone making an Advance Decision should take legal advice to ensure that the document is valid.
How can we help?
If you want to relax, safe in the knowledge that you and your personal affairs will be looked after according to your wishes whatever happens in the future, simply call us and we’ll talk you through your options and offer you a clear and competitive costs estimate, with no hidden extras.