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ensure there is no room for any ambiguity in your wishes

View profile for Ben Parmenter
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A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document which has the potential to permit a nominated person to assist you with finances or your health and welfare decisions. There has been a statistic circulating in the press that it is estimated there will be 1 million people in the UK with dementia by 2025. This finding means that it is important to ensure you have considered what could happen in the event you are unable to deal with your affairs yourself. LPAs are made when you do have the capacity to deal with these things yourself, but are registered with the Court and saved fora time where you do not.

There are two types of LPA, one deals with property and financial affairs and the other with health and welfare. The first LPA gives the power to your attorneys to help you manage your property, assets, bank accounts, investments etc. This LPA can be used when you have capacity upon your direction, and when you have lost capacity, your attorneys carry out your wishes for you.

The second LPA gives the power to attorneys to consider where you live, what care you receive and the power, in accordance with your wishes, to consent or refuse life sustaining treatment. The health and welfare LPA can only be used when you have lost capacity.

As you can appreciate, giving another person the ability to act in key areas of your life is an extremely serious process. When creating LPAs it is important to ensure that the documents adhere to important safeguards in terms of the preparation and registration and, in some instances, should contain specific legal wording.

It has become clear in the news that some individuals are opting not to instruct a solicitor to complete their LPAs. The risk is that your LPAs will not operate in a way which properly reflects your wishes and will not be clear as to at what point the documents should be used, how often and to what extent. For example, it is important to a lot of people to remain in their homes when they reach the later stages of their life. A solicitor can help you draft your LPA to reflect exactly what you would like to happen if that point is reached and can carefully limit and monitor the powers you give to your attorneys.

Your appointed attorneys should be people you trust to deal with your affairs in accordance with your wishes. You can choose anyone as long as they are over the age of 18 and you are confident that they could understand and appreciate the important duties. It is also possible to appoint a solicitor as your attorney who would also be under a duty to act in your best interests. It is important to take advice when making these decisions as there are varying ways in which attorneys can be appointed and this can be tailored to suit you.

Seeking advice from a solicitor on completing LPAs is very important. Given the importance of LPAs it is imperative to ensure there is no room for any ambiguity in your wishes. LPAs should be wholly controlled by you and therefore be a reflection of your wishes.

If you are considering making LPAs, or simply wish to get some more information, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. I am based at our Colchester Office and can be reached on 01206 217611 or ben.parmenter@birkettlong.co.uk.

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