A Lasting Power of Attorney could offer protection at every life stage
Naming a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is often associated with the elderly. But it could provide vital protection and peace of mind at every life stage.
An LPA gives someone you trust the ability to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. When you think about the scenarios that might happen, it may be something you think you don’t need until your later years. However, ill health and accidents can occur at any stage of your life.
Without an LPA in place, it can be difficult for loved ones to act on your behalf. So, whether you’re in your 20s or 80s, naming an attorney could be a valuable way to create protection should something happen.
Your next of kin cannot automatically make decisions on your behalf
It’s a common misconception that your next of kin would be able to make decisions for you if you cannot. However, no one has the automatic right to do so, including your spouse or civil partner.
Without an LPA there may be no one to make health decisions if you’re ill or manage your financial affairs if you cannot.
Overlooking an LPA could also lead to complications if you have joint assets. For example, joint bank accounts could be frozen until your partner gains control through the courts.
If you haven’t completed an LPA, your loved ones would have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This process can be time-consuming and more costly than naming an attorney. In addition, the Court of Protection might name someone to act on your behalf that you would not choose.
A Lasting Power of Attorney can be used to cover health and financial affairs
There are two different types of LPA. Ideally, you should have both types in place – you can choose the same person or people to act on your behalf in both cases.
A health and welfare LPA will give someone you trust the ability to make decisions related to your daily routine, medical treatment, or moving into a care home. A property and financial affairs LPA will cover areas like managing your bank account or other assets, and selling your home.
An LPA is often associated with long-term illness in old age. However, they could be used to give someone the ability to make decisions for you temporarily. For example, if you were involved in an accident, your attorney might handle your affairs while you receive treatment until you’ve recovered enough to take back responsibility.
You can name more than one attorney and specify whether they must make decisions together or if they can do so separately.
Deciding who to name as your attorney may be an important decision – who do you trust to act in your best interests, and would they be willing to take on the role of attorney?
Having a conversation with your loved ones about what being an attorney would involve and your wishes could be valuable. It may give you peace of mind and provide some guidance to your attorney should you ever lose mental capacity.
If family or friends cannot fulfil the role of attorney, you could choose a professional attorney, such as a solicitor.
You cannot register an LPA if you’ve already lost mental capacity. So, if it’s a task you’ve been putting off, you may want to make it a priority.
You must register a Lasting Power of Attorney with the Office of Public Guardian
Read the forms carefully. A mistake could mean your LPA is rejected and you’ll need to pay a fee to reapply.
You’ll need to sign the forms, along with your attorney, and a “certificate provider” (this is someone who confirms you understand what you’re signing and haven’t been placed under pressure to do so). Your certificate provider must be someone you’ve known well for at least two years or a professional person, like a solicitor or doctor. Some people cannot be your certificate provider, including your partner or family members.
Once you’ve completed the forms, you must register the LPA with the Office of Public Guardian, and the process can take several weeks.
Most people will need to pay a fee of £82 for registering one LPA. So, if you need to register both a financial and health LPA, the cost will be £164.
While you don’t need to engage the services of a solicitor to register an LPA, it could prevent delays and issues, particularly if your affairs are complex.
Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney is just one way to improve your security
An LPA could protect you if you ever become too ill or injured to make decisions for yourself, but it’s just one step you can take to create security in case the unexpected happens. Depending on your life and concerns, you might want to consider taking out income protection, creating a care fund, or building a financial safety net.
A tailored financial plan could help you assess which steps could provide you with peace of mind. Please contact us to arrange a meeting.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.