How a Lasting Power of Attorney can help you retain control if ill health prevents you from managing this yourself
5 February 2021 by Rachael Fleet
For many people, Wills and LPAs sit in the category of ‘I’ll sort it out tomorrow’. Often it takes a life-changing event to prompt many people into action. Sadly, for many, it has been the Covid-19 Pandemic that has made them realise that life doesn’t always go to plan.
Ignoring the Pandemic there are many health conditions that already prevent many people from managing their financial affairs. The two most common are dementia and stroke: by age 85 to 89 there’s a 20% chance you will have dementia. And, there are approximately 152,000 strokes in the UK every year. Plainly there are many more life-changing conditions that also prevent you from managing your finances – both short-term and lifelong.
This article explains what an LPA is, why you need one, and how to put an LPA in place.
What is an LPA?
Essentially, an LPA is a legal document by which one person authorises another to act on their behalf should they become unable, for example by reason of mental incapacity, to make those decisions themselves.
There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney; one dealing with financial affairs (property and finance LPA) and the other with health and well-being, including medical treatment (health and welfare LPA).
Why do I need an LPA? Surely my partner can make decisions on my behalf.
Most people incorrectly assume that if their partner suffered a stroke or developed dementia then they could carry on operating their finances as if nothing had happened and would have uninterrupted access to things like their bank account or pension income – this is not the case.
Guidance from the British Bankers’ Association means that banks will often freeze joint accounts if one of the account holders is mentally incapable unless a Power of Attorney is in place. The reason is that joint accounts can only operate if there is continuing agreement of both parties – plainly this can’t happen if one party is not capable of agreement.
I’m not very old so I don’t need an LPA yet do I?
There is often a misconception that Powers of Attorney are set up only when an individual gets older or when an individual’s mental health is in decline. In fact, it is important that Powers of Attorney are set up sooner rather than later and certainly whilst an individual has the requisite mental capacity to understand the arrangement.
How can I get an LPA?
You can put in place an LPA yourself, although it is advised that you take advice from a Solicitor as there is a standard form of words that should be used plus there are a number of considerations that a solicitor is best placed to advise you on to ensure the LPA is appropriate for your needs and to prevent problems later on, especially if you’re unsure of the process or your affairs are complex.
A Solicitor will discuss your circumstances and needs with you and will complete the paperwork and ensure the LPA is appropriately registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, which is necessary before it can be used.
There is a fee to register your LPA. Your Solicitor can outline the full process and costs.
Putting in place an LPA will give you peace of mind that your affairs – financial and health – can be looked after in the event that you are unable to do this yourself.
Having an LPA in place will ensure no lengthy or costly delays whilst the Court has to get involved to make decisions on your behalf, including who can act on your behalf.
An LPA ensures you retain control of how and who manages your finances and any decisions about your welfare.
If you would like to know more about LPAs and how we can help you protect yourself and your loved ones, please get in touch with FJG’s Wills, Life Planning & Probate team, call 01206 700113, or email [email protected].