The four things you need to know about Lasting Powers of Attorney
- AuthorPamela Precious
Hopefully the vaccine rollmout means the threat of Covid-19 will recede as we move further into 2021. However, media stories over the past year, and possibly personal experiences, will have underlined the important and beneficial role of having your affairs in order – and that includes considering appropriate Lasting Powers of Attorney, whatever age you might be.
In a nutshell, Lasting Powers of Attorney allow you to choose one or more individuals to look after your affairs if and when you are unable to do so yourself. There are four important aspects that can often be misunderstood.
A Lasting Power of Attorney cannot be put in place if you have already lost the mental capacity to look after your own affairs
It is important to consider and decide what to do ‘in the good times’, not at the point a crisis might have struck. It is much better to have time to discuss options and arrangements with your family or close friends and to receive advice from a legal professional with experience of drawing up Lasting Powers of Attorney.
You have a lot of flexibility in how your Lasting Power is framed and when it takes effect
You can choose that it has immediate effect so that others are authorised to look after your affairs whilst you currently have mental capacity yourself. Alternatively, you may choose that the Lasting Power of Attorney only comes into effect if you are ill or lack capacity. In this latter situation, if you recover, for example after a serious illness, you can then assume sole control of your affairs once again.
You need different types of Lasting Power of Attorney to cover off different aspects of your life
Those with Lasting Powers of Attorney already in place often have it for their ‘property and financial’ affairs, which covers aspects such as paying bills and moving money between bank accounts. You need a separate ‘health and welfare’ Lasting Power of Attorney if you want others of your choosing to have the authority to discuss and agree medical and other related care. If you own a business, you may also want a Lasting Power of Attorney that gives separate authority to one or more individuals who would be suitably experienced to make decisions about your business if you were unable to do so.
Younger as well as older people can benefit from having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place
Obviously there are very clear benefits, later in life, to having a Lasting Power of Attorney. However, many couples across the age range organise their financial affairs across a range of sole ban accounts rather than a single joint account. This means that, in the event of one partner being incapacitated, it becomes very difficult to manage day-to-day affairs or make important decisions without formal authority to deal with a partner’s accounts.
There can be an understandable reluctance to discuss and put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney but, in my experience, individuals derive great comfort and peace of mind from knowing that ‘all is in order’ and their loved ones will not be faced with practical difficulties because of the lack of appropriate authority to make decisions on their behalf.
Contact our specialist lawyers to find out how we can help you put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney, appropriate to your wishes and circumstances.