Giving someone the authority to make legal choices for you is an important decision to make. Should you become unwell and unable to make decisions about your health and care yourself, you will need to assign someone lasting power of attorney to help you decide how to handle your money and deal with other financial affairs.
This does not constitute advice and advice should be sought in all instances before acting on it.
What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document in which someone (the donor) gives another person (the attorney) the right to help them make decisions, or make decisions on their behalf.
An LPA is not a will — it’s a completely different legal document. When you’re getting your affairs in order, it is common to complete a will at the same time as assigning an LPA, though. It can offer people peace of mind that they’ve selected someone they trust to make decisions on their behalf should they no longer be able to, which is why it’s often lumped into the same category when figuring out your future plans.
Why an LPA is important
There is so much uncertainty in life. You can become ill, have an accident, or maybe you’ll live a long, healthy life — there’s no way of knowing what the future holds. If you have an LPA in place, your attorney has full authority to deal with your finances and assets, plus you can discuss and plan ahead with them so you know they’re someone you can trust to make decisions about your health and welfare in the event that you’re unable to.
Your LPA is the chance you have to legally decide what happens to you and how your affairs are handled. You can go into detail or set up guidelines for them to act and decide within. The idea is to make these decisions with a qualified professional ahead of time when you’re in good health and of sound mind.
Making decisions ahead of time
In order to put a lasting power of attorney in place, you need to make the decision while you are fully capable of understanding the nature and effect of doing so. In other words, you need to be healthy and clear-headed. Once you are past that point, due to illness or incapacitation of any kind, you will not be able to assign an LPA, nor will anyone else be able to do so for you.
Contrary to what some people might think, your spouse or next of kin does not have an automatic legal right to manage your affairs. Making decisions on your behalf without an LPA could become complicated and costly.
Without an LPA in place there is no one with the legal authority to manage your affairs. No one will be able to access your bank accounts or investments in your name. There will be no one to sell your property on your behalf, payoff any debts, decide your medical care, the list goes on.
If you don’t assign someone ahead of time, your loved ones will need to go through a lengthy legal process to obtain authority. The Court of Protection will decide on a chosen “deputy” — a process far different from assigning an LPA and one you, yourself, will have no say in.
Getting protection in place
Are you thinking about how to manage your financial affairs or potential health decisions? Perhaps a relative or loved one is in need of assistance? Even if there’s only a slight chance of needing someone to make legal decisions for you in the future, it’s smart to assign a lasting power of attorney. It could truly be the last line of defence you have in life. To learn more about LPAs and how to best protect your family, get in touch with us.