Don't leave it too late to put into place Lasting Powers of Attorney
Life Matters for Lymington from Lester Aldridge: there are many advantages of putting LPAs into place at an early stage.
Our monthly 'Life Matters' series focuses on those niggling legal matters to which we should attend: this month Parisa Jones from Lester Aldridge looks at why we should not put off putting into place Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA).
As a Private Client Solicitor, I will often speak to clients about putting into place Lasting Powers of Attorney. A response I often hear is that “I will do it when I need it”. However, if you’re in a situation when you need a power of attorney, it may be too late!
Once people understand the process of putting into place LPAs and the advantages of doing so at an early stage, they will often change their mind about delaying it.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
It is not always possible for someone to manage their affairs effectively. This may be due to a physical or mental impairment. Having an LPA in place will help eliminate any stress that this may cause and ensure that there is always someone to assist you or to make decisions on your behalf, if necessary.
There are two types of LPA that you can make; one that covers property and financial affairs and the one that covers health and welfare. Generally, we would advise that you make both types of LPA.
A property and financial affairs LPA allows your appointed attorney to access bank accounts, make payments on your behalf, sell property, buy property and deal with investments, subject to any restrictions or guidance you may wish to impose. This LPA can be used whilst you have capacity and, in the unfortunate event of you losing mental capacity.
A health and welfare LPA allows your appointed attorney to make decisions about medical treatment, life-sustaining treatment, where you live and daily routine again, subject to any restrictions or guidance. This LPA can only be used if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
Why make an LPA?
Preparing an LPA at an early stage can help give you peace of mind that if anything were to happen, your affairs will always be dealt with by someone that you trust. You are able to retain control on your finances until you either feel that you need assistance or, in the unfortunate event that you lose your mental capacity. At this stage your attorney will then be able to undertake all necessary tasks on your behalf, whilst always acting in your best interests.
Does the LPA have to be registered?
In order for your attorneys to act under an LPA, it needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. The registration fee payable is currently £82.00 for each LPA and the registration process takes approximately 8-10 weeks.
Who should I appoint as an Attorney?
It is important to choose someone that you trust and that has the skills necessary to make the best decisions for you. For example, if you are appointing someone to manage your finances, does he or she have the financial experience to do this or even have the time take on this responsibility?
Your attorney will also need to consent to acting and is required to sign the LPA form.
Read our feature from August 2018, 'Lasting Power of Attorney demystified'
What happens if I don’t make an LPA?
If you have make no provision in the form of a valid Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) or LPA, there will be no one to make decisions on your behalf if you require assistance or if you lose mental capacity.
In terms of your financial affairs, there would not be anyone with the legal authority to act for you. Consider how your bills would be paid, how your funds would be accessed and who would sell your property if you needed to move.
In terms of your health and welfare, medical practitioners and social services would always act in your best interest. However, this may conflict with what you would wish to happen and with what you would communicate, if you were able to do so.
The only way in which someone would be able to make decisions on your behalf would be to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed a Deputy. This is an expensive and time consuming process and the Court appointed person to make decisions for you may not be the person you would choose.
Can I still use my EPA?
In October 2007 the Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into force and you can no longer make an EPA. However, if a valid EPA was made before 1 October 2007, it can still be used and subsequently registered if and when you lose mental capacity.
An EPA only needs to be registered when you are losing or have lost mental capacity.
An EPA only allows your attorney to make decisions about your property and financial affairs. If you have made an EPA, you may therefore wish to consider making a health and welfare LPA.
Can I make a General Power of Attorney?
Yes – this is a relatively quick and easy way to appoint someone to act in your behalf, whether generally in relation to your financial affairs or just in relation to a specific matter, for example, the sale of a property. However, a general power of attorney ceases to be valid if you lose mental capacity.
Therefore, the only way to protect yourself in the event that you lose mental capacity is to make an LPA.
Do take advantage of a totally free consultation
Life Matters for Lymington with Parisa Jones
In addition Parisa Jones, Lester Aldridge specialist in wills, estates, tax and trusts, is on hand whenever you need advice on any legal matters. She is happy to meet you in person at your home or at the Lester Aldridge offices in Bournemouth, or on the phone as preferred. You can talk over the specifics of your situation with Parisa, and take things from there.
Parisa qualified as a solicitor in 2012 and specialises in wills, estates, tax and trusts. She joined Lester Aldridge covering the New Forest in July 2019, having previously worked in Lymington so she knows the area well. It is important to ensure that your legal affairs are always up to date and Parisa offers a friendly face to support you during the various stages of life. She has a wealth of experience in dealing with a broad spectrum of clients with different needs and requirements. Parisa deals with matters with sensitivity and empathetically but also offers a proactive approach with practical solutions.
Life Matters for Lymington and the New Forest
For a full list of all the Life Matters articles by Lester Aldrige Solicitors published on Lymington.com so that you can read the ones which interest you, please click this link
About Lester Aldridge
Lester Aldridge Solicitors are based in London and Bournemouth where the office covering the New Forest is situated conveniently close to the main Bournemouth train station. Their specialist teams in the various fields of law will be happy to advise and assist you, starting with a completely free initial consultation during which you can decide whether you feel able to trust them with your confidential information. For more information please click here.