What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why do I need one?
When we’re fit and healthy and enjoying our lives the last thing we want to think about is the time when this may not be the case. But with 1 in 6 people in the UK over the age 80 getting dementia, the chances are there is going to be a time when we aren’t able to make decisions for ourselves. And it’s not just age-related illnesses which can affect our mental capacity, an accident or disease could happen at any time. Despite this only, 4% of us have a lasting power of attorney registered. But what is one and why do I need it?
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of LPA covering different areas of your life:
- health and welfare
- property and financial affairs
What happens if I don’t have an LPA?
If you don’t have an LPA registered and lose your mental capacity, then your family will need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as Deputy. It’s an expensive and long-winded process and not something your loved ones want to go through while also at the same time dealing with your illness. Having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place before anything happens to you means there are no obstacles in place to get you the care you need. Here are some reasons why everyone needs an LPA.
Doesn’t marriage or a civil partnership cover me?
You may be surprised to know that regardless of how long you’ve been together, your spouse or partner does not have any legal right to make decisions on your behalf.
Next of kin or common law doesn’t exist.
Many people believe that your ‘next of kin’ or ‘common law’ spouse can make decisions on your behalf if you’re taken ill. But the only people who can make decisions on your behalf are those who have been authorised to. You can do this in your LPA.
Having a joint account is not enough.
It may also be a surprise to learn that as soon as the bank finds out one half of a couple has diminished capacity, they can shut down accounts and freeze assets. And legally any money in that account is not yours, so you have to be careful how you spend that money. It’s also not possible to access any accounts solely in a partner’s name.
You’ll save money
As above if you do not have an LPA in place and you lose capacity, your family will need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a ‘Deputy’ to be able to make decisions on your behalf. An application for a Deputy to be appointed after a person is deemed incapacitated will cost a lot in solicitors’ fees; securing an LPA in advance can save the majority of these costs.
Best to be prepared
Things can change faster than you think. Dementia and other age-related illnesses can come on faster than it takes to get an LPA in place, and sadly accidents happen every day. A LPA is a safety net for you and your loved ones, we can’t predict the future, but we can make sure we’re covered whatever happens.
I have an Enduring Power of Attorney do I need an LPA?
The government replaced Enduring Power of Attorneys (EPA) with Lasting Power of Attorney’s in 2007. We’ve put together a post which goes into more detail about the differences and what you should do if you have an EPA. You can read it here: ‘What is the difference between a Enduring Power of Attorney and a Lasting Power of Attorney?‘.
You can read more about LPAs on our page, or if you have any questions or if you’d like our help setting yours up, please get in touch either by filling in our contact form, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you’d prefer to call our number is 020 8619 0358.