Most people are aware of the benefits of writing a Will, but it is also a good idea to arrange another legal document called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), to ensure that there is someone legally able to handle your affairs when you are no longer able to do so.
Inevitably, people tend to spend as little time as possible thinking about a time when they can no longer look after their own matters and become incapable of making decisions for themselves in the future. However, data from the Alzheimer's Society shows that over one million people in the UK will suffer from dementia by 2025. The truth is that mental and physical disorders come uninvited, sometimes even hitting younger people in the event of an accident or illness, and we need to make sure that our affairs are overseen by someone we trust. Having an LPA will make sure that this happens.
An LPA provides for the authorisation of another person to decide on matters concerning your health and welfare or property and financial affairs. LPAs took effect in 2007, replacing the previous document called an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).
An EPA made and signed before 1 October 2007 is still valid and can still be used. The main difference is that an LPA allows someone to make decisions about their health and welfare in addition to their property and financial affairs, whilst an EPA relates only to the latter.
An LPA is recognised by local authorities, financial institutions and care homes and can be used once registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. Anyone aged 18 or over can become an attorney and it would be their responsibility to decide on what is best for you and at the same time make sure that you could have your say where possible, as stipulated in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
If no LPA or EPA exists when it becomes necessary to handle someone else’s affairs, you may have to involve the Court of Protection (providing protection for people who are incapable of handling their own affairs) which will appoint ‘Deputies’ to make decisions, declarations, or orders on financial or personal welfare matters on behalf of the person who lacks capacity.
Click here for more information about making and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney.