When You Might Need a Lasting Power of Attorney

An LPA ensures that your attorneys can act immediately without waiting for court approval, which can be vital for your well-being and financial stability.

Lasting Power of Attorney

Life is filled with unexpected events, both positive and negative, and the harsh truth is that we cannot control our destiny. However, this doesn’t mean we should passively accept everything that happens. Instead, we must be prepared to seize life’s opportunities while also mitigating the impact of unforeseen challenges.

One of the legal remedies available in the United Kingdom to deal with unforeseen circumstances is the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This is a mechanism that allows you to appoint one or more people (known as attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf. The document is particularly crucial if you become unable to make your own choices due to illness, accident, or incapacity.

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There are two types of LPAs:

  1. Health and Welfare LPA: This type allows your attorney to make decisions about your daily routine, medical care, and life-sustaining treatment. This option can only be used when you’re incapable of making your own choices.
  2. Property and Financial Affairs LPA: This document empowers your attorney to make decisions about your money and property (e.g., managing a bank or building society account, paying bills, selling your property). It can be used as soon as it’s registered, with your permission.

When Might You Need an LPA?

First, let’s address when you don’t need an LPA: when you are healthy and of sound mind. Unfortunately, accidents and illnesses don’t warn us before they occur.

A Lasting Power of Attorney ensures that if you become incapacitated, your chosen representatives can make decisions on your behalf, in line with your wishes. This can encompass a wide range of situations, from sudden accidents that leave you temporarily unable to manage your affairs to progressive illnesses that gradually impair your decision-making abilities.

It’s a mistake to think that LPA only applies to the elderly. While it is especially important for this group due to the natural decline in health as we age, younger adults should also prepare for unexpected events. After all, car accidents, crimes, or illnesses like strokes can be incapacitating and affect individuals of any age.

Another common mistake is putting the burden of decision-making and interpreting your wishes on your family. Of course, they will be there for you when you need them most, but remember that they will have to make crucial decisions about your health, well-being, and assets during an incredibly stressful and delicate time without being able to communicate with you to clarify what you want. Without an LPA, if you become incapacitated, your family may need to go through a lengthy and potentially costly court process to gain the authority to manage your affairs. This can add unnecessary emotional and financial stress during an already challenging time.

By appointing an attorney, you ensure that a professional will take care of all your needs according to your wishes, quickly and efficiently, as soon as you’re no longer able to. As you know, in emergencies, quick decision-making is crucial.

An LPA ensures that your attorneys can act immediately without waiting for court approval, which can be vital for your well-being and financial stability.

Moreover, by choosing trusted individuals, you can help protect yourself from potential exploitation or mismanagement by those who may not have your best interests at heart.

Who to Nominate as Your Attorney

Anyone over the age of 18 can have an LPA. The most crucial factor is not the degree of kinship but how much you trust this person. However, trust is just part of the equation. Your attorney should be capable of handling the responsibilities involved, including being organised and reliable, and have the necessary knowledge to manage financial or health-related decisions. Communication skills can also help ensure your wishes are clearly understood and implemented.

Furthermore, choose someone who understands your values, preferences, and wishes. They should also be able to commit the time and effort required to manage your affairs, especially in times of crisis or when quick actions are needed. While not a strict requirement, having an attorney who lives nearby can be advantageous, particularly for decisions related to health and welfare.

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Above all, it’s crucial the person you nominate is willing to take on the responsibility. Discuss the role with them in advance.

Another good tip concerns the age of the people involved. Choosing your parents is a natural tendency, as they are generally the people we trust the most. However, they should be in good health and ideally not much older than you, to increase the likelihood that they will be able to act on your behalf for the duration needed.

That’s why it’s a good idea to nominate more than one attorney. This ensures there is someone else available to act if your primary choice is unable to do so for any reason.

Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney can be uncomfortable at first. Still, once it is done, it will give you peace of mind knowing that, should anything happen, your health and finances will be managed by people you trust and who are willing to respect your wishes and values. Since it is a document with significant implications, it is best to prepare it with the help of power of attorney solicitors. They will tailor the Lasting Powers of Attorney to meet your specific requirements, ensuring protection against undue influence, coercion, fraud, or abuse.