A Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) is a legal document where a Donor is able to confer authority on their Attorneys to make decisions about the Donor’s Personal Welfare and/or Property and Financial Affairs.

Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is just as important as making a Will and whilst quite a low percentage of the UK population currently have a Will, fewer still have an LPA; in fact in 2021 less than 1% of people had an LPA. This figure is staggeringly low and as it is estimated that one in three people over 65 will develop dementia, having an LPA in place will enable you to be prepared for what the future may throw at you. Although it may seem like LPAs are only valuable to you when you grow older, it is also the case that every 90 seconds someone is admitted into hospital in the UK with an acquired brain injury.

Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

This type of LPA enables your chosen Attorneys to look after all of your Property and Financial Affairs, which can extend to business interests if you are a partner in a partnership or if you operate as a sole trader. Your Attorneys under a Property and Financial Affairs LPA have the authority to act even if you have not yet lost capacity. This can be a useful tool particularly if you are out of the country for a while or if you are growing older and less mobile.

Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

An Attorney acting under such LPA can make decisions about the social and health care of the Donor. Unlike an attorney for financial decisions, an attorney under a Health and Welfare LPA can only act if the Donor no longer has capacity. Generally, and if there are no restrictions contained in the LPA, an attorney may give or refuse consent to health care treatment on behalf of the Donor.

What Happens if you don’t appoint a power of attorney?

There is a common misconception that spouses, partners and close family members will automatically be given the right to make decisions on your behalf should anything happen to you, but this is not the case. If you lose mental capacity an application would have to be made to the Court of Protection for the Court to appoint a deputy to act on your behalf for either your Property and Financial affairs or for your Health and Care decisions. This route is more expensive and time consuming and a medical expert will also need to be instructed to certify that you have in fact lost capacity.

Conclusion

Although it can be tempting to put off having LPAs in place, it is preferential to be prepared for whatever life may throw at you and LPAs can save you and your family a lot of hassle and pain later down the line.

It is possible to do your own basic LPAs online but due to the complexity of executing them properly it is beneficial to instruct a solicitor, and instructing a solicitor is even more important in instances where family relationships are complicated or where you own business interests.

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