08 December 2015 #Private Client
Most people understand the importance of making a Will. Far fewer understand the importance of making a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are documents that enable you to appoint attorneys to manage your affairs if you become unable to do so in the future as a result of either accident or illness. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney; one covers your Property & Financial Affairs whilst the other covers your Health & Welfare.
Many people wrongly assume that their families will be able to take out an LPA on their behalf at such time as they become unable to manage their own affairs. This assumption is however incorrect. An LPA can only be made by the donor whilst they have the capacity to understand the document they are signing. As part of the process a certificate will need to be signed by a certificate provider, confirming that the donor fully understands the document they are signing. If the certificate provider feels unable to sign this certificate then it will not be possible to make an LPA at that time.
LPAs are often associated with progressive illnesses such as dementia and many people therefore plan to take out LPAs shortly after receiving a diagnosis. Loss of capacity can however often be sudden and unexpected, arising from illnesses such as strokes or even accidents.
Should someone lose capacity before taking out a Power of Attorney, the only option available to them and their families will be to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed to manage their affairs. This is a very slow and costly process and ultimately the deputy appointed by the court might not be the person the family would have chosen if they had the choice.
We therefore recommend that all our clients consider taking out LPAs whilst they are still fit and well. The process of making and registering LPAs is fairly straightforward and cost effective when compared to a deputyship application and is the only way to ensure that your affairs will be managed by an attorney chosen by you.
If you would like further information about taking out a Lasting Power of Attorney, or if you need advice with regards to a deputyship application, please feel free to contact our Private Client department.