So You Have a Will, but Wonder if You Need a Lasting Power of Attorney?
17th February 2016
If you already have a Will you’ll be aware that it deals with your estate (your money, possessions and property) after you die. So having a Will should mean that your estate passes in accordance with your wishes and that it will be much easier for your family (or friends) to sort everything out. But what happens if you decisions need to be made on your behalf whilst you are still alive? A Will won’t assist in such circumstances but having an LPA should.
An LPA is a legal document where you as the Donor appoint someone (usually close relatives or friends) to be your Attorney(s)( and possibly Replacement Attorney(s)) to make certain decisions on your behalf including when you lack mental capacity. So by putting an LPA in place now, means you essentially retain a degree of control – presumably you would only appoint people you trust to carry out your wishes and who will always act in your best interests. You can also place restrictions or conditions on the face of the document itself.
There are two types of LPA:
- A Property and Financial Affairs LPA which allows your Attorney(s) to make decisions about paying bills, dealing with the bank, collecting benefits, selling your house, etc; and
- A Health and Welfare LPA which allows your Attorney(s) to make decisions regarding treatment, care, medication, where you live, etc.
It’s anticipated that 1 in 3 individuals over 65 will suffer from some form of dementia and if capacity becomes an issue it may not be possible to put an LPA in place at that stage. This means that your loved one is then left with the costly alternative of applying to the Court to become your Deputy. This is a slow process, taking 4-6 months once the paperwork has been completed, and while awaiting the outcome your affairs may be in a state of limbo. Preparing an LPA in a timely fashion could therefore also save your family a lot of stress, pressure and unnecessary expense.
Once completed and registered, an LPA can be used if you suffer a physical infirmity eg in an accident or have a stroke but you regain control of making your own decisions once you recover. So an LPA isn’t simply to be considered by the elderly although of course it allows you to plan in advance so that other people of your choosing may make decisions on your behalf at a point in time when you might lose the capacity to make those decisions yourself.
If you would like more information or have decided that you want to put an LPA in place please contact us.