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Lasting powers of attorney
What can I do if I am not able to manage my affairs?
You may be worried about what happens to your assets during your lifetime if you are unable to deal with them because of ill health, or perhaps you quite simply do not want to. Lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) will allow you appoint people of your choosing to take care of your affairs during your lifetime should you not want, or not be able, to do so yourself. There are two types of LPA, one to cover property and financial affairs and the other to cover health and welfare decisions.
Property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney
The property and financial affairs LPA will allow attorneys to liaise with your bank, manage accounts and investments and, also, buy and sell property on your behalf. Once the document is registered your attorneys can act on your behalf if you do not have capacity or under your authority if you do have capacity.
Health and welfare lasting power of attorney
The health and welfare LPA will allow attorneys to make decisions about what medical treatment you receive, where you may live, and you can also give them the power to accept or refuse life sustaining treatment on your behalf. Your attorneys can only make these decisions if you cannot do so yourself.
The importance of this type of LPA is becoming increasingly apparent and was highlighted in a case that came to light a couple of years ago. In this case, a lady (who I will refer to as Mrs Smith) had unfortunately lost capacity. She had a nasty fall and went into hospital and was discharged into what her three children thought was respite care. The local authority assessed Mrs Smith and determined that she should remain in the care home but her children wanted her to be allowed home with 24 hour care. Mrs Smith did not have a LPA for health and welfare and as there was a disagreement about where she should live, the matter went to court so a judge could make a final decision. The judge decided Mrs Smith should return home to be cared for.
The senior judge of the court thought it was interesting that Mrs Smith had prepared a property and financial affairs LPA in favour of her children but not a health and welfare document. He commented that he did not feel this was deliberate on her part but stated that if she had a LPA for health and welfare the matter would not have ended up in court. This would have saved the family a considerable amount of time and money. As a result of this case we recommend all of our clients have a lasting power of attorney for health and welfare.
Your attorneys are under a duty to act in your best interest at all times and it is important you should choose people that you trust to take on this role. If you do not have close relatives or friends you could appoint a solicitor as your attorney.
I am based at our Basildon office and can be reached on 01245 453 833 or email@example.com.