Most people know that when they die, what they leave behind will be distributed according to their Will (if they have done one!) but get confused as to where a Lasting Power of Attorney fits in.
A Lasting Power of Attorney, sometimes referred to as LPA for short, can only be set up and used whilst you are still alive. In simple terms it’s a document that allows you to nominate a person or people to look after various aspects of your life if you are not able to.
Picture the scene, say you were involved in a car accident and suffered a brain injury which meant you could no longer look after yourself. Who will decide how to manage your investments? Pay/stop your bills? Decide what sort of medical treatment you should have? If there is no Lasting Power of Attorney in place then the courts will decide. This can be very distressing if you are married with separate bank accounts, as your spouse has no legal right to access your money, so could struggle if there are family bills to pay.
Lasting Power of Attorney Forms
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
- Property and Financial Affairs – for decisions about your financial life.
- Health and Welfare – for decisions about your general wellbeing and medical care.
Some people think a Lasting Power of Attorney is only for older people when they begin to struggle with making decisions but I would advise anyone over 18 to have both types in place to save your family a lot of hassle and stress.
They are easy to set up and you can do them yourself via the government’s website however, make sure you know what you are doing because if you get it wrong your Lasting Power of Attorney may be invalid when you need it most or may not properly reflect your wishes. You have to use the designated government forms, you can’t create your own.
You will need to decide on 3 roles:
- Attorney – the person or people you wish to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t. This can be anyone you like over the age of 18 but choose carefully, remember your life is in their hands! You may also want to consider a reserve attorney should something happen to your first choice.
- Certificate provider – a person who can verify that they know you and that you understand what you are putting in place.
- Witnesses – an independent person who can witness your signature and that of your attorney and certificate provider.
Once you have created your Lasting Power of Attorney you will need to register it with the Office of the Public Guardian for it to be legally valid. Once done it can be used anytime.
Lasting Power of Attorney – 5 Benefits
- You have peace of mind that you and your affairs will be looked after by the people you trust should you not be able to do it yourself.
- Less hassle and stress for your family. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, your family will need to apply to the Court of Protection to be able to make decisions on your behalf.
- Saves time. Applying through the courts can takes months during which time you may be paying bills that are no longer needed or your investments may not be managed.
- Your attorney can decide where your care is to take place rather than you being moved to a care home miles away from family.
- It is clear who is to look after your affairs rather than family fighting for control.
Don’t put off making your Lasting Power of Attorney until it is too late. Once you have lost the capacity to make decisions you will no longer be able to create a Lasting Power of Attorney so better to get it sorted now!