You can create a Lasting Power of Attorney at any point in your life, so long as you have mental capacity.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which gives someone, or a group of people, the authority to act and make decisions on your behalf. The people you appoint are called your attorneys. There are two types of LPA and you can have one or both in place at the same time –
- Property and financial affairs LPA, which enables your attorneys to manage and make decisions about your finances. This can include paying your bills, buying or selling a house, collecting your pension and investing your money.
- Health and welfare LPA, which enables your attorneys to make health and care decisions on your behalf, such as what medical care you should receive, where you should live and who you should have contact with.
A property and financial affairs LPA can come into effect at any time you like. You might want your attorneys to start acting straightaway, or you might want them to wait until a particular period in your life. Conversely, a health and welfare LPA can only come into effect once you have lost mental capacity.
Mental capacity and Lasting Powers of Attorney
Mental capacity has a significant bearing on LPAs. This is for two reasons.
Firstly, a health and welfare LPA can only come into force once you have lost mental capacity. Sometimes the loss of capacity will be obvious, perhaps because you are unconscious or under sedation. Other times, the situation is little less clear-cut. Furthermore, conditions such as dementia mean that your mental abilities can change from day-to-day.
So, what exactly is mental capacity? For the purposes of LPAs, mental capacity means that you –
- Understand the decision that you must make
- Understand why you need to make a decision
- Understand the possible implications of your decision
Ultimately it will be up to a trained professional to determine whether or not someone has mental capacity.
Secondly, you can only create an LPA if you still have mental capacity. It does not matter if you are suffering from another physical ailment, such as cancer – so long as a trained professional considers you ‘mentally capable’, you are free to put an LPA in place.
However, not everyone makes an LPA before they lose mental capacity. When this happens, your loved ones do not automatically have the right to manage your affairs. This will probably come as a shock, as many people assume that their spouse or children can simply pick up the reins when needed. Unfortunately, it does not work like that.
Instead, your loved ones must apply to the Court of Protection and ask to be appointed as your Deputy. This is a long and expensive process. That is why it is much easier to make an LPA, as it will give the necessary authority to your chosen attorneys, without anyone having to go through the courts.
Make an LPA now, before it’s too late
It is distressing to think that there may come a time when we can no longer make our own decisions. However, illness, injury or old age can all affect our mental capacity, and often we do not know when this might happen. That is why it is better to be prepared and put the necessary plans in place, while you still can.
If you would like to know more about making a Lasting Power of Attorney, or you would like to get started with the process, we can help.
Please call Debbie on Southport 01704 532890 or Liverpool 0151 928 6544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.