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Planning for the future
As life expectancy increases, handling financial and personal affairs later in life can become more difficult. The burden of this can be alleviated by creating a lasting power of attorney (LPA).
There are two types of LPA; one to cover your property and finances, and the other to deal with your health and welfare issues. These documents allow you to appoint people of your choosing (attorneys) to act for you during your lifetime.
The property and financial affairs LPA can be used as soon as it is registered. This means that, even whilst you still have capacity, you can have extra assistance from your attorneys should you need it as they will be able to act immediately.
The health and welfare LPA can only be used when you no longer have the capacity to make such decisions for yourself. You can, however, include guidance or restrictions within your LPA which will give your attorneys directions as to what your wishes would be.
Your attorneys have a duty to always act in your best interests. It is important, therefore, that you trust your attorneys to carry out your wishes. If you do not have anyone who you would like to appoint, you can appoint a solicitor to act as your attorney.
If you lose capacity and have not made a lasting power of attorny, an application must be made to the Court of Protection. This process is very lengthy and medical evidence will need to be provided in respect of your capacity. The Court (rather than you) will make a decision as to who would be suitable to act on your behalf. In addition, the legal fees will be far greater than those incurred in making a LPA, and there will be significant court fees to pay. Given this, it is preferable to make LPAs and appoint people that you know and trust to deal with your affairs, thus saving time, cost and potential heartache in the long term.