Ensuring you have a will is always the main topic stressed by private client solicitors, your financial advisor and maybe even family and friends. However, Lasting Power of Attorney are equally, if not more, crucial in ensuring your wishes are upheld when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. While a will dictates what happens after your passing, LPAs empower trusted individuals to act on your behalf during your lifetime. In this blog, we will look into the essential aspects of LPAs, why they matter, and how they can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
The Basics of LPAs
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that grants someone you trust the authority to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so due to mental incapacity or physical constraints. There are two main types of LPAs: one for health and welfare decisions and another for financial and property matters. It is highly recommended to have both to cover all aspects of your life effectively.
Health and Welfare
A Health and Welfare LPA allows your chosen attorney to make decisions about your medical treatment, where you live, and the care you receive. This document ensures that your preferences regarding your well-being are upheld even when you are unable to communicate your wishes.
Financial and Property LPA
On the other hand, a Financial and Property LPA grants your attorney the authority to manage your finances, buy or sell property, pay bills, and make investments. This is crucial to safeguard your financial interests and ensure that your assets are managed responsibly.
The Importance of Early Planning
One of the most critical aspects of LPAs is the timing. You can only create an LPA when you have the mental capacity to do so. Therefore, it is advisable to create LPAs alongside your will or as soon as possible. Waiting until a crisis occurs could leave you without essential legal protection.
Consequences of Not Having an LPA
Losing mental capacity without an LPA in place can lead to a host of complications for both you and your loved ones. Without an LPA, your family or friends may face difficulties in accessing your finances, selling property, or making medical decisions on your behalf. In such cases, they would need to apply to the court to have a deputy appointed, which can be a lengthy and costly process, potentially delaying the care you need and causing additional stress for your family. Even then, if a deputy that is not personally known to you is appointed, this can create even more hurdles for others to access your funds.
Choosing Your Attorney
Selecting the right person to be your attorney is a crucial decision. Many people opt for their spouse or partner, with their adult children as replacements if needed. It’s vital to choose someone you trust implicitly, as they will be making decisions on your behalf, often during challenging times.
Changing Your Attorney
Life circumstances can change, and you might find it necessary to change your appointed attorney. Fortunately, the process allows for such adjustments. If you wish to change your attorney, you can revoke your current LPA and apply for a new one, ensuring that your legal representation aligns with your current wishes and circumstances.
In conclusion, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are an indispensable component of your estate planning toolkit. They offer peace of mind by ensuring that your wishes are carried out, even when you cannot advocate for yourself. The importance of early planning, coupled with the flexibility to choose and change your attorney, underscores the significance of LPAs in safeguarding your financial and personal well-being. Don’t wait until it’s too late; take the necessary steps now to protect yourself and your loved ones through LPAs.