LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY – WHAT IS IT?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) is a formal document in which you appoint one or more people – your “attorneys” – to make decisions for you in the future, should you lose the ability – the “capacity” – to make those decisions for yourself.
There are two kinds of LPA, each of which perform separate and distinct functions;
This enables you to appoint attorneys to take care of your finances, from day-to-day administrative tasks such as running your bank account, ensuring you receive all your income, and paying your bills, to larger decisions such as the sale and purchase of your property and other capital assets.
An LPA in respect of Property and Financial Affairs
An LPA in respect of Health and Welfare
Here you appoint attorneys to make the more personal decisions for you, such as what medical treatment you receive, where you live and what arrangements are made for your day to day care.
You can have either the Health and Welfare or the Property and Finance LPA in place, or you can have both. If you decide to have both, you don’t have to appoint the same attorneys in both – you can appoint different attorneys to make the different classes of decision.
Who you choose to appoint is entirely up to you. Many people choose a close and trusted friend, or a family member such as a grown-up child. Other people opt for a professional such as their accountant or their family solicitor.
You must have the capacity to make decisions for yourself at the time you enter into an LPA, but your attorneys’ powers don’t come into effect unless and until you lose capacity in the future. For an LPA to take effect, it must also be registered at the office of a government official known as The Public Guardian.
What an attorney can and cannot do for you is determined by a code of practice. In a nutshell, an attorney must always support you in making decisions for yourself if at all possible, must only decide on your behalf as a last resort, must make decisions in your best interests, and can take account of the views of those close to you in deciding what is in your best interests.
You can tailor the LPA to your own specific needs, by giving instructions as to what decisions your attorneys can and cannot make and how particular decisions should be arrived at.
WHY DO YOU NEED A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY?
In this modern age, we benefit from longer life expectancy, but the downside is that, as we live longer, the likelihood of experiencing declining physical and mental health in our later years increases.
If you care about what happens to your assets after you die, you will have at least thought about making a will. Protecting your assets, and your own health and welfare, during your lifetime matters just as much, if not more. LPA’s enable you to decide in advance what happens to you and your assets if you lose capacity.