Why should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a crucial legal step that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. If you do not have an LPA in place and you are unable to make decisions for yourself, the consequences can be challenging for both you and your loved ones.
Let us introduce you to Mandy. Mandy is aged 78 and lives in Somerset with her long-term partner Brian, aged 80. Mandy has two grown up children from a previous relationship, Sarah and Andy. Sarah also lives in Somerset and Andy lives in London. Brian does not have any children of his own.
Mandy was diagnosed with dementia in 2022 and in recent months her condition has sadly deteriorated. As a result, Mandy is now unable to manage her finances. This is becoming increasingly challenging for Brian because most of Brian and Mandy’s bank accounts are in Mandy’s sole name, as well as the utility accounts for their home which they jointly own. Mandy and Brian do not have LPAs in place and problems begin to emerge:
Brian discovers an issue with their gas meter and when he calls the utility company to ask them for some assistance, he is told by the advisor that they cannot speak to him because he is not the account holder. Brian suspects the meter is faulty as their gas bill is soaring but unfortunately he is unable to resolve the issue. This is a growing concern for Brian as the cost of living rises.
As Mandy’s health worsens, Brian realises that he needs some support with Mandy’s care, so he organises a carer to visit Mandy each morning at their home. As Mandy has substantial savings, her care must be privately funded but Brian is worried that he will struggle to pay the carer’s costs because much of Brian and Mandy’s money is held in Mandy’s bank accounts which he is unable to access.
Since no LPA is in place, Brian has little choice but to apply to the Court of Protection to become Mandy’s “deputy” to gain access to the bank accounts to pay for Mandy’s care and to manage their utility accounts. This process can be very costly, time-consuming, and emotionally taxing.
How would the situation differ if Mandy had made an LPA before she lost capacity?
If Mandy had made an LPA whilst she still retained mental capacity and she had appointed Brian as her attorney, Brian would be authorised to speak to the utility providers and to Mandy’s banks on her behalf so he would be able to gain access to the money needed to pay for her care and resolve the situation with the gas meter.
In many cases, it is usual to appoint more than one person to be your attorney. Given that Sarah lives near to Mandy and Brian, Mandy may have decided that it would make practical sense to appoint Sarah as a second attorney so that Sarah would also be able to help manage Mandy’s finances and assist with day-to-day tasks. This could prove necessary should Brian pass away before Mandy as it would ensure that someone Mandy trusts can still manage her affairs. Similarly, Mandy could appoint Andy as an attorney. Even if Andy lives further away, physical location does not hinder someone from acting as an attorney, especially because many tasks can be managed over the phone or via email in today’s digital age.
So why should I make an LPA?
1) Peace of mind:
Knowing that someone you trust has the legal authority to make decisions according to your wishes ensures peace of mind. You can discuss your preferences and values with your appointed attorneys to guide their decision-making process.
2) Timely decision-making:
With an LPA in place, your attorneys can act promptly when necessary, making critical decisions about your finances, health and welfare without delays.
3) Control over decision-making:
By making an LPA, you can choose who will be responsible for making important decisions on your behalf. You can appoint a family member, friend or a professional to act in your best interests. If you do not have an LPA in place and the Court of Protection need to step in, the Court may appoint someone to manage your affairs which may not be the person you would have chosen.
4) Avoiding family conflicts:
By appointing an attorney through an LPA you minimise the likelihood of family disputes over decision- making during an already challenging time.
5) Personalised provisions:
Your LPA can be tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. You can include instructions or restrictions in the document to guide your attorney’s actions.
6) Health related decisions:
In addition to managing your finances, if you make a health and welfare LPA, your attorneys can make decisions about your medical treatment, care and living arrangements if you become incapacitated.
Remember is it essential to make an LPA whilst you still have the necessary mental capacity to make the document and to understand the consequences of your decisions. By planning ahead, you can ensure your wishes are met and reduce stress on your family. Consulting a legal professional can help you understand the process and make an LPA that suits your needs.
If you would like to know more about making an LPA, please get in touch with our legal team. We would love to hear from you.
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