Lasting Powers of Attorney and when you should put them in place.
Posted on: September 6th, 2022
In a recent study undertaken by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, it was found that only one in seven people have given another person power of attorney over their affairs.
At Cygnet Law, we speak to clients daily about the importance of putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place. We help clients in a wide range of scenarios concerning these documents, from those in urgent situations requiring attorneys to be appointed, to people simply enquiring about what the documents are and how they can be useful.
Lasting Powers of attorney are documents which allow a person to appoint ‘attorneys’ to help to make decisions for them on their behalf, should they not be able to do so themselves. By way of example, we at Cygnet Law often help clients who may have had a recent dementia diagnosis and want to put something in place to allow their family members to deal with their finances or medical decisions if their condition was to deteriorate.
There are two different types of Lasting Powers of Attorney, one which covers a person’s health and welfare and the other concerning property and finances.
A health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you were to lose capacity and not be able to make them yourself. This could include decisions regarding treatment, medication and even those surrounding care homes. The document allows you to specify specific preferences or instructions for your attorney to consider in relation to your health and welfare if you wish to include them.
The property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney, unlike the health and welfare document, can be used straight away by your attorneys whilst you still have full mental capacity if you consent for them to do so. This means that not only can your attorneys make decisions on your behalf if you were unable to but can also give an extra helping hand with your property and finances if you wanted allow them to do this. This could be anything from speaking to your bank or even so far as selling your home on your behalf.
The documents are extremely useful and are often vital in circumstances where a person loses mental capacity.
It is not uncommon for clients to feel these documents are not relevant to them because they are young or in good health, however this is not the best way to think about Lasting Powers of Attorney. As already mentioned, these documents can be fundamentally important to a person who is at risk of losing mental capacity. The issue we as humans have is that unfortunate events happen every day and nobody knows what the future may have in store for our health. A problem arises in that Lasting Powers of Attorney can only be put in place if a person has mental capacity. So, by the time someone needs to use the documents, if this is because of a lack of mental capacity, it would be too late to put them in place. This is why we at Cygnet Law recommend that these documents are considered by everyone, even if it is felt they are not relevant at the time.
It should be noted that if a person does lose mental capacity and cannot put these documents in place, there are other options. A friend or relative could apply to be a deputy through the Court of Protection and deal with a person’s affairs this way, however this is a more time consuming and costly process so if possible, having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place as a precaution is ideal.
If you would like more information on Lasting Powers of Attorney and how we at Cygnet Law can help guide you through this process, please do not hesitate to contact our offices on 01642 777680 or email your enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org
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