Laura Edwards, Private Client Solicitor at Humphries Kirk explains the advantages of drawing up Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) and why it is important to ensure you have them in place.
People often appreciate the benefits of making a Will as they get older. However, not everybody appreciates the benefits of making LPAs.
What is an LPA?
An LPA is a legal document in which you appoint people to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so.
There are two types of LPA, one in relation to your property and financial affairs (paying bills/selling property) and another in relation to your health and welfare (where you live/care/medical decisions). You can give your health attorney the power to accept or refuse life sustaining treatment on your behalf.
Do I really need a Health and Welfare LPA?
Clients often question whether it is necessary to appoint attorneys under a Health and Welfare LPA.
Health and welfare decisions are very personal and distinct from financial decisions. A financial attorney has no authority to make decisions about care, hospital treatment or life sustaining treatment. If no health attorney is appointed, these decisions will be made on a best interests basis.
The Office of the Public Guardian have recently issued guidance about the release of medical records to attorneys. This states that both financial and health attorneys should be given access to these. This may assist with claims for NHS Continuing Healthcare. There is often a crossover between financial and health decisions with these kind of claims. It is therefore important to make both a health and financial LPA
What if I lose mental capacity and I haven’t made an LPA?
LPAs can only be made whilst a person has sufficient mental capacity and understands the nature of the document. Clients often believe that if they were to lose capacity, their next of kin would take over the management of their affairs. However, this is simply not the case.
If you lose capacity, the only way in which someone can manage your financial affairs is if you have a properly prepared LPA or Enduring Power of Attorney in place of if a Deputyship Order is obtained from the Court of Protection. The process for obtaining a Deputyship is costly and time-consuming.
Why should I use a legal professional to prepare my LPAs?
People often believe that LPAs are very simple to complete, particularly when appointing family members. However, it is very important to receive proper advice in relation to LPAs and particularly in relation to who should be appointed as an attorney and whether any additional provisions should be included.
If you require further information in relation to LPAs, please contact the Private Client Team in Parkstone on 01202 715815.