The Importance of a Lasting Power of Attorney

power of attorneyMore of us are living to a ripe old age. Unfortunately, that means that many more of us will lose the mental capacity to cope with our financial affairs or even personal welfare. There are already around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, and set to exceed one million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

There is little we can do to turn back the clock – but there is a way to prepare, which could make things easier for ourselves and our loved ones.

Planning for the future

The answer is to create a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This is a legal document which lets you give legal authority to people you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. These people are referred to as your Attorneys.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney.

A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows your attorneys to make decisions about your welfare, living arrangements and health care.  This could include whether to consent to life sustaining treatment.

A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney allows your attorneys to run your finances. At its simplest this can simply mean ensuring bills are paid, and collecting your income, pensions or benefits, but it can also cover making your investment decisions and selling your home. Your Attorneys can – and probably should –  use a Financial Adviser to help and advise.

Setting up the support you need

It sounds like something we might get around to when we need it, but in fact the time to set up an LPA is while you are still mentally capable. If you become mentally incapacitated with no LPA in place, your affairs could be legally frozen until the Court of Protection appointed a deputy. You would have no control over who was appointed and family and friends do not automatically have the right to take over your affairs.

Setting up the LPA before it is needed is safe as well as prudent.  You can stipulate that you will retain control until you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions yourself.

How to arrange an LPA

To arrange an LPA you first need to appoint one or more Attorneys aged 18 or older, and decide whether they will work independently, or jointly, in which case they must agree all decisions. You then complete a LPA form, and register it with the Office of the Public Guardian. The form must be independently signed by someone such as your doctor, social worker or a solicitor.

You can find the official government tool to create an LPA at lastingpowerofattorney.service.gov.uk/home. There is normally a £110 fee to register with, although if you are on a low income, the fee may be reduced or waived.

You do not have to use a solicitor to create an LPA, but many people prefer help from a legal adviser.

What should you do?

Arranging an LPA is like writing your will. Both are best done as soon as possible, for the simple reason that none of us knows what the future holds.

The same reason should also spur us to ensure that we have the Life insurance and other types of cover to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

The simple way to do that is to sit down with an expert from the Continuum team, call us now on 0345 643 0770, or email us now at  [email protected]

Sources:

alzheimers.co.uk – Facts for the media

Please note Continuum cannot act as POA for clients due to a conflict of interest

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