The short answer should be, because I want control over the difficult decisions that will affect me and my family when I am no longer in a position to make them for myself. I don’t want my wishes to be second guessed or disregarded. The best way to ensure that this happens is to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
LPA’s come in two forms, Health and Welfare and Property and Financial Affairs.
The Property and Financial Affairs LPA, as the name suggests deals with all your financial affairs and it enables the people you name ,your attorney(s) to deal with your financial affairs. This includes accessing your bank accounts and even claiming benefits to which you might be entitled.
Married couples sometimes wrongly assume that their partner can deal with their affairs should they be incapacitated. For even straightforward things like a joint bank account, the situation can change, once the bank discovers one party no longer has capacity or failing capacity. The best outcome is that only half the funds could be accessed. This can change dramatically if the bank accounts are in individual names and the main earner is incapacitated, this could potentially put your home at risk. So if it is difficult for something as straightforward as accessing a bank account, imagine something like property affairs or investments. The Property and Financial Affairs LPA s active once it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
The Health and Welfare LPA, again this is as the title suggests but with some subtle differences from a Property and Financial Affairs LPA. A Health and Welfare LPA does not come into force until the person making the LPA (the donor) becomes incapacitated either through dementia or brain injury. Unlike the Property and Financial Affairs which comes into force when it is registered. As a donor, when appointing attorney(s), you should make your attorneys aware of your wishes medically or things that matter to you culturally and /or religiously. Your attorney(s) can then, when the time comes, plan your care in accordance with your wants and your needs. This can cover a broad spectrum, from the mundane such as the clothes you wear and the food you like or dislike, right through the level of care, to upholding your wishes on medical treatment i.e. end of life care or sustaining life.
Without an LPA in place, and especially if you have dementia you cannot put an LPA in place and it is at this point that families have to seek assistance from the Court of Protection. This can be stressful, expensive and time consuming often at a time when care for yourself or your partner should be the priority. The main issue is control, if an LPA is made, you get to choose, who is to be your attorney(s) should you become incapacitated, without an LPA the choice will be made on your behalf probably by someone who doesn’t know you personally.
My own grandmother who is in her 90’s and still in good mental health, had an LPA drawn up by our family lawyer many years ago, this has enabled her to plan the care she wanted before she becomes too frail, it also enables the family to take care of her finances (with her considerable input!) and has allowed the family to do her shopping and banking without her presence leaving her free to concentrate on the important things, Countdown, Pointless etc..
In conclusion LPA’s give you the choice and freedom to decide what is best for you and your family while in a position to do so, but most importantly – control.
Having the right guidance and advice means that most concerns are addressed quickly and effectively. If you want expert advice in making an LPA, call me, Mark Hill on 01733 511060 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.