What is a Power of Attorney?
Powers of Attorney (POA) have been serving the public for centuries. It is a powerful legal document which allows an individual (Donor) to appoint a person of their own choice (an Attorney), to look after their affairs should they at a later stage no longer wish to make these decisions or lack the capacity to manage their affairs themselves.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs
This allows the persons appointed (the Attorneys) to make decisions about paying bills, dealing with banks and investments, arranging and collecting benefits and even selling property on behalf of the Donor.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare
This allows the Attorney(s) to make decisions for the Donor such as care issues, where the Donor lives, and, where the Donor wishes, giving or refusing consent to life sustaining treatment.
As the name of the power suggests (lasting) both of these powers continue to be valid even after the Donor loses capacity. Once registered, a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs can be used by the Attorneys at any time, HOWEVER a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can ONLY be used when the Donor has lost mental capacity.
No doubt you have taken care to ensure that your assets go to the right people when you die by making a Will. If you care enough about what happens to your assets after you die, then you ought to care even more about keeping them and yourself safe while you are alive.
If you were to suffer an accident and be confined to bed or hospital, contract an illness or have a more serious accident that permanently incapacitates you or become mentally incapacitated as a result of old age or some other reason, then without an LPA in place, the ONLY way your financial affairs can be managed is by an application (by a relative or someone close to you) being made to the Court of Protection for Deputyship. The application must provide personal information about themselves, their family, their own finances and the relationship with the person they wish to help care for. Medical evidence also needs to be obtained.
This process costs a considerable amount of money and can take anything between 12 weeks and 10 months, by which time your finances could be seriously damaged. Even worse, a Judge will make the final decision as to who is appointed as the Deputy and this may not be who you would have wished to manage your affairs. The appointment does not even have to be a family member, preferring to appoint a Panel Deputy, either retired Solicitors or Barristers who work for the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) or a Local Authority.
If you would like to speak to a certified Estate Planner about Lasting Powers of Attorney, please get in touch today.