Who can help if things take a turn for the worse?
17 April 2020 by James Bird
We are going through an unprecedented time across the world with virtually everyone in lockdown. It is in times like this that although we must stay positive, we should also make sure that we have everything in place that can be, in order to make life easier should circumstances change.
Many people’s minds have automatically jumped straight to worst case scenarios and wanted to get their Wills put in place or updated, just in case. However, not as many people have given a second thought to making Lasting Powers of Attorney. These can be just as important, and at times even more important than Wills, depending on the scenario.
What are Lasting Powers of Attorney? (LPAs)
Lasting Powers of Attorney are legal documents that allow you to appoint people (called your attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. There are LPAs for both property & finances (dealing with your bank accounts, investments, property etc) and health & welfare (dealing with medical treatments, care decisions and even giving and refusing life support).
Health & welfare LPAs can only be used by your attorneys if you lose mental capacity (for example sustaining brain injuries or developing dementia). Property & finance LPAs can either be used only if you lose capacity (like above) or they can be used at your direction by your attorneys (ie you still have capacity and you tell them what to do for you). Given that society is in lockdown and the number of people actually able to go out is very limited, this is certainly something which may help the elderly or more vulnerable who have to isolate much more strictly. Parents or grandparents may not be able to leave the house to deal with their affairs and an LPA could allow them to appoint family or friends they trust to carry out their instructions whilst they are unable to leave the house.
How we can help
It is a challenging time indeed for all but at Fisher Jones Greenwood we are committed to trying to keep to business as usual. We are offering video calls by a variety of methods (such as zoom, face time, Skype, Microsoft teams, WhatsApp etc) and also telephone appointments where that is not possible.
Instructions can be taken remotely and draft documents prepared and sent to clients for approval (by whichever means is best). When it comes to signing, given that the law still does not allow for virtual signing or witnessing of LPAs (ie we cannot witness you sign documents over video chat) we can go through the documents with you over the phone page by page and then send you copies with instructions for you and a witness to sign and complete. If there are any concerns or questions at the time, just give us a call and we can even guide you for signing at the time you do it.
With social distancing being key to life at the moment as well, finding a witness might take some thinking about but we can come up with various suggestions which would hopefully be able to help overcome that issue.
We might not be able to tell how long it will be until things return to normal but we can definitely help with getting your affairs in order to cover any eventuality. If you wish to discuss making a Lasting Power of Attorney (or Will for that matter) then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01206 700113 or email [email protected] for more information.
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