Solicitors for the Elderly has recently released a report highlighting the dangers of creating Lasting Powers of Attorney online, without professional guidance. The report concludes that, for the majority of people, seeking assistance from a Solicitor “remains the most effective, safe and legally robust option for creating an LPA”.
What is an LPA?
There are two types of LPAs (Lasting Power of Attorney). One concerns property and financial affairs and the other is for health and welfare decisions. The purpose of creating an LPA is to appoint people of your choosing to be able to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you become unable to make important decisions yourself.
Do you need an LPA?
For those of you with property or bank accounts, the property and financial affairs document is essential. Have you considered what would happen if you suddenly became unable to deal with your finances, either through illness or due to an accident?
Having an LPA in place means that a person or persons of your choice, who you trust, are able to assist in paying your bills, managing your bank accounts and dealing with your home. Without an LPA, your loved ones would have no access to your funds. They would instead have to apply to the Court to be appointed to take control of your property and financial affairs. Such applications take time and are expensive. Furthermore, anyone can apply to the court whether it be another family member or even the Local Authority. A Court application is therefore best avoided.
It is worth noting that a property and financial document can be used even if you still have your mental capacity. This can be helpful for those who have other types of health problems, for example, if you struggle travelling to your local bank or talking to financial institutions over the telephone, then you can appoint an attorney to assist you to carry out your decisions.
The health and welfare document can only come into force once you have lost capacity yourself. A health and welfare LPA gives your attorneys (again, people you have chosen) the right to make decisions about your medication, where you live and so on. The document can extend to giving your attorney the right to consent to, or refuse, life sustaining treatment on your behalf.
I recommend that every adult has an LPA appointing the people of their choice to deal with their affairs in the event of a loss of capacity. The time to act is now. You can only create an LPA whilst you have the capacity to do so. If you were to lose your mental capacity, it would be too late to then create an LPA and your would-be attorney would have to go down the time-consuming and costly Court route.
As you can see, LPAs are incredibly useful but also extremely powerful documents, so it is vital that you seek appropriate advice on your LPA. For practical legal advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, Sharon Woodward, or contact a member of the team on 01924 882000.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice, and the law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice on their own particular circumstances.