Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
What would happen if you were mentally or physically unable to take care of yourself or your day to day affairs?
You could lose the ability to pay bills online or write cheques, make deposits or withdrawals, sell assets, move to a new house, invest or otherwise conduct your affairs. Unless you are prepared, incapacity could devastate your family, exhaust your savings and undermine your financial, tax and estate planning strategies. Planning ahead can ensure that your health-care wishes are carried out and that your finances will continue to be managed properly.
Incapacity can strike anyone at any time. Advancing age can bring confusion and forgetfulness, or even worse, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A severe illness or accident can occur without any warning, at any age. Even with today’s medical advances it is a real possibility that you or your spouse could find you are incapable of handling your own health, care and financial affairs.
What if you are not prepared?
Should you become incapacitated without proper plans and documentation in place a relative will have to ask the court to appoint a deputy to act for you. This is emotionally draining, time consuming and expensive. More importantly, without instructions from you and having to comply with directions from a Judge, a deputy is most unlikely to make the decisions you would have made.
We can advise you on the best actions for you to take to stay one step ahead.
Future Financial and Healthcare Plans
Advanced planning is not just required in old age. At any age a medical crisis or accident could impair your ability to look after yourself and your finances and you may be surprised to learn that next of kin have very limited legal rights to help.
The doctor in charge of your care will usually make only medical decisions necessary and your finances are not automatically placed under anyone’s control to make and implement decisions to ensure your affairs are kept in good order.
What plans should I be thinking of making?
There are a number of important steps you should take so your Financial and Healthcare plans afford you maximum protection and to ensure your loved ones or Kreston Reeves can support you when you most need help.
|Kreston Reeves can help you to understand your rights and here are some reasons why you should plan ahead:|
|To sell my house so I can move somewhere more suitable for my needs||To stop my life being prolonged when I have no quality of life|
|To ensure I’m pain free at all times||So my loved ones know my wishes|
|To ensure my tax returns are completed||So my doctor knows my wishes|
|To keep my business running smoothly||To relieve my family from the worry of making difficult decisions about me|
|To avoid family disputes||To see to it my bills are paid|
|To allow me to maintain my dignity|
Once you have thought about your preferences and everything you wish family and healthcare professions to know about you, the next step is to formalise them.
There are four main ways to protect your interests and record your wishes and they are:
Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Finance and Health and Welfare
Choosing people you can trust to make decisions for you (Legally binding)
General background information about you and your care, likes, wants and needs (Advisory only)
Explaining treatments you do not want to receive e.g. CPR (Legally binding)
Tells your medical team not to attempt CPR (Advisory only)
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document you use to appoint trusted individuals to make decisions on your behalf after you lack the mental capacity to make decisions yourself. It cannot be used before it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
The person chosen to make decisions on your behalf is your ‘attorney’
The two types of LPAs are ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ and ‘Health and Welfare’
We recommend you sign both versions as it is vital your finances and future welfare are covered to protect your best interests.
Worried about Financial Management
A registered Property and Financial Affairs LPA lets people you choose make decisions about:
- Buying, selling or renting property for you
- Managing your investments to increase your income or selling investments as may be necessary
- Operating your bank/building society accounts
- Managing any ongoing contracts with utility providers, etc.
- Claiming, receiving and spending your pensions and benefits
- Making sure you have all the resources available to meet your needs.
Worried about your Health, Medical and Care?
A registered Health and Welfare LPA lets the people you choose make decisions about:
- Giving or refusing consent to particular types of health care and medical treatment
- Staying in your own home
- Moving into retirement housing or choosing the right care home for you
- Day to day issues like your diet, dress or daily routine and keeping family and friends in touch with you.
Having an LPA helps to put you in control of who will make decisions for you if one day they have to be made on your behalf.
Choosing who to appoint needs careful consideration since you will be entrusting them with important responsibilities. Your attorneys should understand your wishes, respect your values and make decisions that will be in your best interests.
There are a few options to consider when appointing your attorneys:
- You may appoint more than one attorney and make them all act together or to give some flexibility, independently of one another. You can even appoint them to act altogether in respect of some matters and independently in respect of all other matters. If attorneys have to act jointly then the LPA fails if any of the attorneys die, lose capacity or fall out with their co-attorneys. If they can act independently, then such problems are avoided.
- A replacement or successor attorney may be appointed
The benefits of making a Lasting Power of Attorney
An LPA allows you to plan:
- The decisions you want to be taken on your behalf in the future if/when you lose capacity regarding your finances and health.
- The people you want to make these decisions.
- How you want your attorneys to make these decisions.
Having an LPA is a safe way of maintaining control over decisions made for you because:
- It must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used.
- Someone must vouch that you understand the significance and purpose of it.
- From a legal perspective, your attorneys must follow the Code of Practice of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 – if they do not always act in your best interests the OPG can step in.
An Advance Statement is your personal record of what is important to you in relation to your health and wellbeing. It will only be referred to at a time when you are unable to tell people yourself how you wish to be cared for. It will be referred to every time a decision is due be made about you so your wishes will always be considered.
Advanced Decision to Refuse Treatment
An Advanced Decision allows you to record in writing any medical treatments that you do not want to receive in the future, in case you later lack capacity and cannot make or communicate a decision for yourself. If correctly prepared it is legally binding and your instructions must be followed. They are frequently used to prevent CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) being performed.
Having completed your Advanced Decision, it is very important to share details of your wishes with all the important people in your life, including your doctor.
Don’t forget to retain a copy for yourself so you can keep the details up to date.
An Advanced Decision and a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can be valid at the same time and the most recent document will take priority if the contents overlap.
Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR)
A DNAR is a form you can obtain from your doctor which, once signed, informs your medical team not to attempt to re-start your heart and/or breathing by a procedure known as CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Most people are surprised to learn that a DNAR form is not legally binding. Instead, it is a communication to healthcare professionals that you do not want CPR performed on you and will be taken into account when your best interests are being considered. To make your instructions legally binding you must make your wishes known in an Advanced Decision or through your attorney using a Health and Welfare LPA.
Power of Attorney Services
We have a wealth of experience in handling the finances of our clients when they are unable to do so for themselves. We can arrange to pay bills, ensure there is always sufficient funds in the bank, manage your investments with the help of your financial advisor, complete your tax returns and at all times, keep accurate accounts and records. We will always act in your best interests and just as importantly, in accordance with any wishes or preferences you have made known to us.
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