Coronavirus – Do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) is a legal document that allows you to nominate people to step into your shoes to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to make these decisions yourself.
These people are known as Attorneys. Be clear, these documents work while you are alive and end on your death.
Lasting Powers of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs (“LPA PFA”) replaced the old-style Enduring Powers of Attorney (“EPA”) in 2007. If you already have an EPA then this is still valid and does not necessarily need to be replaced with an LPA PFA. If in the future, your Attorneys need to use this document, they may be able to do so straight away, with your consent. If they believe your capacity is starting to change, then they have a duty to register it with the Office of the Public Guardian – a process which can take around two months under normal circumstances.
Looking at LPAs, there are two different types: an LPA for Property & Financial Affairs (replaced the EPA) and an LPA for Health & Welfare. These newer documents can be registered straight away so they are ready to use as soon as they are needed.
The LPA for Property & Financial Affairs allows your chosen Attorneys to make decisions relating to your finances such as managing your bank accounts, paying your bills and selling your home. While you still have the mental capacity to make these decisions yourself you can do so, or you can allow your Attorneys to act with your consent.
The LPA for Health & Welfare allows your Attorneys to make decisions about your health and care generally, for example, what clothes you wear, what you eat and where you live. It could also give them the ability to make decisions about end of life care. This document can only ever be used if you have lost the mental capacity to make such decisions yourself.
These documents are extremely powerful so you should only choose Attorneys that you trust to make these decisions.
You can have up to four Attorneys and up to four Replacement Attorneys who could step in and act in the event that your originally appointed Attorney/s cannot. We can tailor LPAs to your needs and explicitly state when and who can use them. We can include additional wording, instructions or preferences to ensure it covers your needs and circumstances.
If you were to lose mental capacity without having made an LPA or EPA then anyone can apply to the Court of Protection to become your Deputy. This is an expensive and lengthy process which, most importantly, means that you are not the one to decide who is in control of your assets. For this reason, among others, we would recommend LPAs for all clients of all ages.
If you would like to discuss LPAs further, please contact Ashtons Legal and ask to speak to a member of our Lifetime Planning team. We will be happy to talk all of this through with you by telephone, or using video conferencing via Microsoft Teams, FaceTime or WhatsApp. Of course, once the Coronavirus lockdown is over we will be able to meet with you in one of our offices.
This information is correct at 2.00pm on 27 March 2020.
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