One of the main reasons for the popularity of Powers of Attorney is that they offer you protection in case your health deteriorates to such a point in the future that you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself and allows you to appoint someone to make decisions for you and act on your behalf.
The ability to look after our own affairs is becoming more of a problem as the population ages and illnesses, such as dementia, become more prevalent. Sufferers may have to rely on their families to make important decisions for them, but this can be difficult if legal arrangements have not been made in advance. Families may have to go through complicated court procedures to be granted authority to manage their affairs.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that prevents these problems by letting you appoint someone to make decisions about your welfare, money or property, on your behalf if you lose the ability to do so yourself. It can be used at any time when you are not able to make your own decisions, such as through illness or following an accident, and need someone else to manage your legal, financial and health affairs.
Types of Lasting Power of Attorney
There are two types of LPA:
- Property and Financial Affairs LPA
This enables someone you trust (the Attorney) to make decisions on your behalf about your property and financial affairs at a time when you are no longer able or lack the mental capacity to take those decisions yourself.
- Personal Welfare LPA
This allows the person you have chosen as your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your personal welfare, e.g. where you live or receive care. It can also include the power for the Attorney to give or refuse consent to medical treatment if this power has been expressly given in the LPA. This applies when you have low mental capacity.
Anyone aged 18 or over with the capacity to do so can make an LPA appointing one or more Attorneys to make decisions on their behalf. Whoever is appointed as Attorney must be someone you trust, whether a family member, friend or solicitor. It is sensible to make an LPA as early as possible as it provides an opportunity to put in writing your personal wishes about what you want to happen should your physical or mental wellbeing deteriorate.
It is also possible to cancel your LPA if you have the mental capacity to do so, and if there is any dispute about whether your LPA has been cancelled, the Court of Protection has the authority to decide the matter.
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