Lasting Power Of Attorney
One of the most trying times for any family is when a loved one is incapacitated through illness or injury. At such a time, the last thing family members need is to be tied in legal red-tape trying to organise the person’s affairs but, unfortunately, this is very commonly the case.
Most people are aware of the importance of making a Will but very few are aware of just how important it can be to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to allow for the management of their affairs if they should be incapacitated in some way.
In England and Wales, if a person is deemed to be mentally incapacitated then their assets are effectively inaccessible until such time as someone can be appointed as what is known as a ‘Deputy’ through an application to the Court of Protection; a long, arduous and expensive process at a time when a family is already under great stress. This process can avoided by establishing a LPA prior to incapacity, to allow chosen loved ones (your Attorneys) to manage your affairs, if you are no longer able to do so.
There are two different types of LPA available to every individual (the donor):
• Property and Financial Affairs: this document allows the management of a donor’s finances and assets. Unless restricted, it allows the Attorney to deal with everything from paying the phone bill, to selling a person’s property on their behalf
• Health and Welfare: allows the attorney to make decisions affecting the donor’s well-being and medical treatments, effectively allowing the donor to choose their ‘next of kin’. The document gives the donor an option to allow their attorney to refuse life-sustaining treatment on their behalf.
The same attorneys can be appointed under both documents or a donor may choose to have different attorneys dealing with different aspects of their affairs. Not all people will require, or want, both documents and it is essential to take expert legal advice as each person’s circumstances will be different.
Independent legal advice is essential to ensure that a donor has sufficient mental capacity to make the document and that no undue influence is used to coerce them into signing. The role of attorney carries an enormous amount of responsibility and a donor must be 100% trusting and confident in their chosen representatives. You are advised to consult a solicitor that specialise in advising on Lasting Power of Attorney. Biscoes who prepared this brief can offer free first consultations to all members of the Armed Forces and veterans as well as Coffin Mew who are the RNA’s solicitors.