Let’s face it, Wills are underappreciated and often overlooked. In fact, around 54% of the British public do not have one!
Have you ever thought about what would happen if you lost capacity – through illness or suddenly through an injury? How would your bills be paid? Who would decide what medical treatment you had?
Preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to appoint those you trust most to make decisions for you.
There are two types of LPA: one covers property and finances, and the other one, health and care decision making. We can help guide you through the process, as well as preparing the necessary documents and helping you provide your chosen attorney with all the information and guidance about what you want to happen if you do lose capacity.
Deciding who to appoint as your attorney(s) is an important decision. Attorneys do not need to have any legal knowledge or training and the most important point to remember is that the people you appoint to be your attorneys should be people that you trust implicitly. Assuming that you trust the people then our recommendation is that you appoint two or possibly three people to be your attorneys, giving them general authority, so that they can either act together or separately. This then ensures that, so far as possible, your attorneys can take whatever steps may be necessary about your financial affairs and personal welfare matters.
Property and financial LPAs
In considering how your money is managed and your financial well being cared for, it is important to recognise that financial decisions may need to be made very swiftly if you are ill or injured, such as making sure bills can be paid – especially if you are responsible for payments for the benefit of others or are the main earner for your family. Ensuring immediate action can be taken could make a very difficult situation for your loved ones a bit easier, knowing there was one less thing to worry about.
Health and care LPAs
One particular decision you need to consider for health and welfare attorneys is whether you want your attorneys to be able to make life-sustaining treatment decisions for you or not. Which treatments are considered life-sustaining will depend on the situation. We recommend that you discuss this and other medical-related aspects of the LPA with your doctor so that he or she can advise on and answer any questions you may have about situations where the attorneys may need to be able to make medically-related decisions. You may also want to leave specific guidance on particular aspects of treatment. The decision on your LPA overrides any advance decision made on the same subject before your LPA being signed. You can also leave a note to provide further guidance to your attorneys.
The benefit of advice to prepare your LPAs
Although the LPA forms may appear straightforward, we recommend that specific instructions and guidance points are included in all powers of attorney to provide clarification and protection to your attorneys to make sure that some common issues and matters, which our experience tells us to cause a problem for attorneys, can be avoided. Supplemental instructions and guidance can also be provided to your attorneys more informally through a Note of Wishes or Memorandum of Understanding. LPAs have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used and registration takes 8-12 weeks so it’s much better to start the process of thinking about LPAs early – consider them like an insurance policy against a loss of capacity – there if you need it but hopefully you won’t!
If you or a relative would like further information on LPAs or how our law team can help you, please get in touch.
Head of the personal planning team
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