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Expert opinion: Lasting Powers of Attorney – planning for the future

Written by Rochelle Graham on .

Rochelle Graham

 

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lack mental capacity at some time in the future or no longer wish to make decisions for yourself.

It is commonly believed that when a person becomes incapable of dealing with their own affairs, that their spouse or another family member can step in to help make decisions on their behalf.

Unfortunately, this is not the case and it is necessary for a Lasting Power of Attorney to be in place in order to give your loved ones the legal authority to manage your affairs.

Most people wonder when it is the right time to consider putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, and many think that this is when they begin to lose capacity and are unable to manage their own affairs.

The honest answer is that there is not a ‘right’ time to put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, and in some situations having one set up becomes crucial to individuals who need to supported by a family member within a very short period of time.

In recent times, the coronavirus pandemic has tested many individuals’ capabilities and with a large proportion of people shielding under government advice, this has resulted in many not being able to manage their affairs in the usual way – like going to the bank or shopping.

Without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, appointing someone to act on your behalf, these normal daily tasks have become extremely difficult and for some almost impossible to achieve.

Many people wrongly assume that setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney means that you have given up all control of dealing with your affairs and are no longer able to do things for yourself, however this is not the case and there is the option to specify that your Attorneys can act on your behalf, only with your permission to do so.

It is vital to have a Lasting Power of Attorney drawn up whilst you still have the mental capacity.

Otherwise, it may be left to the Court to decide who should be given this responsibility and this may not be the individual(s) you would have chosen yourself. Do not wait for signs of physical or mental decline before setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney, as it may be too late.

Although it is difficult to think about the possibility of losing capacity, and how we might cope with managing our financial affairs, it is important to plan for the future, especially in these unprecedented times.

There are two specific types of Lasting Power of Attorney:

Health and Welfare LPA
Allows your attorneys to make decisions about any medical issues, your care, life sustaining treatment and even your daily diet.

Property and Financial LPA
Allows your attorneys to make decisions about your money, bank accounts, and even buying and selling property on your behalf.

Rochelle Graham is a solicitor in the private client department at Goughs www.goughs.co.uk