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What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why do I need one?
None of us know what the future holds but we all want to be sure that if something happens that leaves us unable to make decisions about our own finances, property, care or well being, that someone we trust could do it for us.
Unless you have already appointed someone to be your Power of Attorney, your relatives will have to spend months going through a legal process to enable them to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot – a route that will be much more costly for your estate, too.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is there as a safety net in the same way insurance is for a car – you hope you won’t need it but it’s comforting to know it is in place.
Who should you choose to be your attorney?
Make sure it is someone you trust. They also have to be over the age of 18 and think carefully about whether that person is organised enough to deal with the paperwork that this role will involve.
It can be a relative, a friend or you can choose a professional, such as your accountant or solicitor. You need their agreement to appoint them and it is always advisable to choose a replacement for them in case they are unable to carry out the task at the time.
You can also choose more than one attorney to look after your affairs, say in the case of an elderly parent who has two grown-up children. In this case you will need to specify how they can act, jointly, jointly and severally or jointly in some aspects but severally in others.
Why is the Mental Capacity Act relevant?
This act sets out how your attorney’s should behave when it comes to making decisions about your future. They:
- Should keep all your money separate from their own
- Must act in accordance with your wishes, in the past or the present
- Must act in your best interests
- And should not take advantage of you to benefit themselves
If I have an existing Enduring Power of Attorney, do I need to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, too?
Not necessarily. An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) was the previous legal document for choosing an Attorney to look after your property and finances. The new Property and Finance LPA replaced EPAs in 2007. If you have an EPA and are still happy with the Attorneys, you may just want to consider making a Health and Care LPA as these aspects are not covered by your EPA.
If you need help and advice in making a Lasting Power of Attorney please contact Birkett Long.