When putting your affairs in order, we think about making a Will which deals with matters after we have gone but often overlook the help you might need in lifetime, i.e. through a power of attorney.
There are different sorts of powers of attorney – general powers are usually for the short term (if you are working abroad say) but are only valid if you have mental capacity. For a more long term solution a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is the answer. Prior to October 2007, they were called Enduring Powers of Attorney. Those created are still in effect, although an LPA can be more comprehensive.
The benefit of an LPA is that you are appointing someone you choose and trust to manage your affairs in your lifetime should you not be able to yourself. This might be because you have lost mental capacity (you have dementia, say) or physical capacity either to get out or sign your name (you have had a stroke, say). It does sound a bit doom and gloom but without an LPA, then your family member will have to apply to the Court of Protection for authority to act, this can take 4-6 months and most importantly you have no control over who makes that application.
There are two types of LPAs – one to cover property and finance decisions and one to cover health and welfare decisions.
You can set out in the LPA whether you want one or more attorneys, have some substitutes and also decide how your attorneys will make decisions for you and when.
Your attorney or attorneys can be anyone who is over 18 who has not been declared bankrupt. You can have one attorney, or more than one, or have one with a replacement if your chosen attorney cannot act for any reason. You should consider carefully who your attorney should be – someone who is suited to the decision making process (whether financial or care or both) and someone you trust to carry out your wishes in the event you are unable to yourself.
Whilst you can prepare an LPA yourself online, I wouldn’t advise it – these are important documents and very easy to get wrong – seeing a solicitor who specialises in this areas is invaluable.