Posted on 10.2.16 by Michael Smoult
We all know that we should write a Will, but too few of us know we should also consider making something known as a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). The common misconception is that we often associate Lasting Powers of Attorney with the older generation, however with more and more young people participating in extreme sports, such as rock climbing, caving, sky diving and white water-rafting the importance of a Lasting Power of Attorney becomes even more prevalent.
We only have to look back to December 2013 when German Formula 1 legend, Michael Schumacher suffered life changing injuries after a skiing crash whilst on holiday with his family. Just this week Beth Tweddle, Britain’s most successful Olympic gymnast ever, broke her neck whilst ski jumping for TV show ‘The Jump’.
But it doesn’t just apply to extreme sports; even those of us who enjoy a kick about with our local 5 a side team or play amateur rugby are at risk of serious injury and therefore planning for the ‘what if’ becomes even more prevalent.
What’s an LPA?
Put simply an LPA is an important legal document that allows you to give another individual the legal authority to make certain decisions on your behalf.
It is a common misconception that relatives/next of kin can automatically look after your financial affairs/ health and welfare matters in the event that you lose your physical or mental ability. We can all relate to the frustrating situation where you have tried to speak with an authority or institution, only to be told that you do not have the relevant authority to discuss it, however LPA’s are recognised by financial institutions, local authorities, as well as tax and benefit authorities.
What type of Lasting Power of Attorney do I need? Property & Financial Affairs or Health & Welfare?
A Property & Financial Affairs LPA covers decisions about your finances. If there comes a time when you can’t manage your finances anymore, your attorney will do this for you. This can include operating bank accounts, paying your bills, collecting your income and benefits, buying or selling your home, paying your mortgage, rent and household expenses, investing your savings etc.
A Health & Welfare LPA allows the attorney to make decisions on your behalf about, it will come as no surprise, aspects surrounding your Health & Welfare. A Health & Welfare attorney could make decisions about where you live for example, day to day care including your diet and what you wear, the assessment of and provision for any community care services, medical matters, for example consent to medical treatment, and arrangements that need to be made.
You can also choose whether you want to give the power to your attorneys to accept or refuse life sustaining treatment on your behalf.
Who should I choose as my Attorney?
The people chosen to make decisions on your behalf are your ‘attorneys’. Being an attorney is an important role and you should think carefully before choosing someone to be your attorney. An Attorney should be someone who is trustworthy, competent and reliable. You need to be sure that the person you choose knows you well enough to make decisions on your behalf that are in your best interests. You also need to ensure that the person is happy to take on the role and that they understand their roles and responsibilities.
If you have not previously made an LPA and you later become mentally incapacitated due to an accident, illness or mental health problem, relatives may have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order. This is a Court order which will give permission to someone to look after a friend or relative’s financial affairs.
Due to the time and expense it can take in obtaining a Deputyship order it is much more efficient and less time consuming to make a Lasting Power of Attorney. Our advice is to make a Lasting Power of Attorney now whilst you still have the mental capacity to do so. They are far less time consuming, expensive, intrusive and restrictive at a time when yours or a loved one’s finances might need immediate attention.