A lasting power of attorney (LPA) gives others the legal authority to act on someone else’s behalf. It means that if the person making the LPA, known as the donor, lacks full mental capacity, someone else can manage everything from their everyday routine to their healthcare treatment. Without an LPA in place, The Office of the Public Guardian becomes responsible, and there is no guarantee that any guardian they appoint will take the decisions you would like.
Many think a power of attorney only matters when capacity is lost. However, a power of attorney can be used to deal with multiple situations, a financial affairs LPA can even be effective when no capacity is lost.
But, because a lasting power of attorney can only be set up when the donor has full capacity, it’s worth getting them in place early. Plus, an LPA brings plenty of benefits.
A lasting power of attorney offers practical benefits
Many put off making, or even thinking about, making a lasting power of attorney because it can seem morbid. People often think of health and care decisions, for example, but an LPA can simply be a practical solution to what can be everyday problems for many people.
A financial affairs lasting power of attorney, for example, can be practised regardless of mental capacity. In a situation where, for example, someone may have impaired physical mobility but retain mental capacity, they can still appoint a family member to take care of matters of property and financial affairs on their behalf, rather than struggling to visit banks or lawyers in person. And it means that someone else can manage routine matters like managing bank and building society accounts and paying bills or mortgage payments. Learn more in our blog What Is A Lasting Power Of Attorney?.
A power of attorney can be used when needed
Although the loss of capacity can be sudden, most people lose mental capacity gradually. Many illnesses begin with short periods of confusion, and for some, that may be all they experience.
A power of attorney can give peace of mind that you are protected and looked after during those periods, by offering the flexibility needed to take effect as and when needed. Leaving you in control but offering the safeguard that a loved one can step in when needed.
You are in control, whatever your mental capacity
Mental incapacity can be a scary prospect for many people. And for some, the idea of someone else making decisions for them can also be frightening. However, a lasting power of attorney means that you keep control.
You can set up your lasting power of attorney in a way that you can be sure your values, beliefs, and preferences are respected. While you are unable to foresee every situation your attorney might face, and will need to allow some discretion, you can offer both directions and guidance in the lasting power of attorney.
For a health and welfare power of attorney, you might want to explicitly state the decisions you want taken in some situations, while offering guidance for the attorneys to consider at other times. You can even define how decisions should be made, so if you have more than one attorney, they must agree on some issues, effectively ensuring that there is a built-in second opinion mechanism for those crucial decisions.
It can protect your financial affairs
Unfortunately, loss of capacity provides an opportunity for criminals. There is a significant problem of scammers targeting and taking advantage of those that have lost capacity and even sharing their details for other criminals to target. Tragically, without a lasting power of attorney, there is little the law can do to protect victims. Many families have had to stand by while a loved one’s bank accounts were drained, unable to help because no enduring power of attorney had been set up.
A lasting power of attorney can help protect your money against fraud by passing legal power to a trusted person to act on the donor’s behalf. And because you can provide clear instructions about decisions, you can ensure that your assets are used in the way you want.
It protects your loved ones
Although you may think you are the one who benefits from a power of attorney, since it protects the health and financial decisions, that are made about you, it also helps your loved ones.
First, it means they do not face the difficult battles they might otherwise have to mount if you lost mental capacity. Some decisions an attorney has to take can be difficult, but it is much worse if those decisions have to go through a court.
Secondly, it means that you can look after them even if you cannot make the decisions you would usually make. If you were the family’s main breadwinner, for example, your power of attorney means they can still access the family’s resources. Or you can ensure that gifts you planned to support your family through life’s milestones are made.
It gives you the chance to plan properly
We do not know how our lives are going to pan out. And while we all hope to reach an old age with physical and mental fitness, there are no guarantees. Setting up a lasting power of attorney is one of the ways you can plan not just for your future, but for your family’s future too.
By taking control with a lasting power of attorney, other elements of your estate and bloodline planning can take place as you want. Whether it’s making gifts or setting up trusts, one of the key benefits of a lasting power of attorney is that, whatever happens, your wishes are followed.
Guaranteed peace of mind
A lasting power of attorney is one of those things that we all hope will never be needed, but waiting until you begin to lose mental capacity is too late. Setting one up early means that you know that, if you lose capacity for any reason, the best interests of both you, and your loved ones, will be looked after.
Contact The Right Will today to help you set up your LPA.