Lasting Powers of Attorney: The Unsung Decision-Making Heroes
People often think of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) as something for the elderly. But people in their younger years really ought to consider the benefits LPAs have to offer should the unexpected happen. Having LPAs in place means you stay in charge of key decisions in your life both now and in the future, regardless of what happens.
What is an LPA
There is a common misconception that making an LPA is about giving up control. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Having an LPA allows you to appoint someone you trust to step into your decision-making shoes should you be unable to make these important decisions yourself. Without one you will have very limited or even no say at all about who might be appointed to represent you, and therefore, potentially no say at all in your health/care decisions and the management of your finances.
By making an LPA you have the opportunity to leave explicit instructions to someone/people you know and trust (your attorney(s)). You can also decide when the LPA becomes effective. That is, immediately or only if you lose mental capacity.
Think of an LPA as a sort of insurance policy – you hope to never have to use it, but you have the peace of mind knowing it’s there if need be.
Types of LPA
There are two types of LPA: one for your health and welfare decisions and one for your property and financial affairs. You can elect to have one or both LPAs drawn up.
The Health and Welfare LPA covers your welfare, medical treatments, and general day-to-day care. Here you can leave explicit instructions to your attorney(s) for things such as, whether you prefer to be cared for in your own home or in a residential care home setting if your health deteriorates, whether there are any medical treatments you would/would not opt to have, whether you have a preferred hair stylist you want to continue seeing, whether there are any specific products you would like to continue using. This LPA only becomes effective if you lose mental capacity.
The Property and Financial Affairs LPA covers any assets, property, and money you own in England and Wales. Here you can leave explicit instructions to your attorney(s) as to how you would like your money to be used and/or invested. With this LPA you can decide whether you want it to become effective immediately or only if you lose mental capacity. You might want it to come into effect straight away if, for example, you are selling a property and will be out of the country during the sale process or you have mobility issues and getting to the bank is difficult for you.
Why it is Important to have an LPA in Place
Without having an LPA in place no one has the legal authority to make these decisions for you, not even your immediate family. The only option in this case is for someone (and it may not be the person you would want) to apply to the court for a Deputyship Order. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process. However, with proper planning and the right support you can decide to whom this authority will go, and you can steer them in the right direction to help them make the best choices for you.
Are you a business owner? If so, an LPA tailored to your company’s needs is an extremely useful document to have in place as well. Indeed, it is not uncommon for a business owner to have two LPAs: one dealing with personal affairs and the other the business affairs. You might choose to give your spouse/civil partner the authority to deal with your personal matters and a trusted business colleague or a professional (such as your accountant) the authority to take sensible decisions for your business.
Retain control of your future in the event that you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself and take the guesswork out for those who ultimately come to make decisions on your behalf. Contact Thompson Budd today to get your LPAs in place.