What is a lasting power of attorney?
A lasting power of attorney is a document which allows you to appoint one or more individuals to deal with your affairs in the event that you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself;
There are two types of lasting power of attorney – one that deals with your property and affairs and one that deals with your health and welfare.
Why do I need a lasting power of attorney?
Have you made arrangements for someone to help you with your affairs as you get older? Have you made provisions for someone else to act on your behalf in the event that you are no longer in a position to deal with your affairs yourself?
A property and affairs lasting power of attorney is the only way to ensure that you retain control of matters, as it means that you decide who will act for you and do the best for you, rather than leaving it to the court to decide who will make decisions about you and your finances.
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A health and welfare lasting power of attorney is a separate document that can allow you to appoint someone who you trust to make decisions on your behalf about your medical care and physical well-being when you are no longer able to speak up for yourself.
Lasting powers of attorney can only be prepared whilst you are well enough to understand the documents and therefore need to be thought about carefully long before they are actually needed.
If an application has to be made to the court to sort matters out because you have become unwell and you do not have either document in place, it can be a costly and expensive exercise and could potentially lead to an outcome that you would be unhappy with if you were aware of what was going on.
It may be that you never need it at all, so in some ways it is like an insurance policy, but is gambling on your future a risk that you would want to take?
When do I need to put a lasting power of attorney in place?
- The sooner you put a lasting power of attorney in place, the better.
- The documents can only be made when you still have the mental capacity to do so therefore you should consider taking the action to prepare the document long before you will actually need it – it is not possible to create a lasting power of attorney after you have lost your mental capacity.
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- The process of putting a lasting power of attorney in place takes several weeks to complete and so if you put off doing it until when you do actually need it, this can cause long and difficult delays in accessing your funds to pay for care.
- You can appoint one or more people to be your attorneys and it is usual to choose close family members. They could ultimately have total control over your assets and must therefore be people whom you trust to act in your best interests. If you have no close relatives, or they live abroad, it is possible to appoint a solicitor or accountant to act as your attorney.
- The cost of creating a lasting power of attorney will depend on whether you are also making a will and whether, due to a physical incapacity, we will need to visit you at home or in hospital.