Who will make decisions for you if you can’t?
September 9, 2014
The news is full of worrying statistics about how many of us will end up with Alzheimer's or dementia and the Ice Bucket Challenge is raising awareness of awful, incapacitating diseases like ALS and Motor Neurone disease. Sadly, these illnesses don't only affect the elderly. Furthermore, serious accidents can leave people severely incapacitated if, for example, they suffer traumatic head injuries. In those circumstances, who would make decisions for you if you become incapacitated and can't manage your own affairs?
None of us want to think about these things but it's now, when we are fit and well, that we should be making preparations for what might happen. You can make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), to set out what you want to happen and who should make decisions and manage your money for you.
In fact, there are 2 types of LPA:
• A Property and Financial Affairs LPA which covers decisions about money matters, and
• A Health and Welfare LPA which covers decisions about your healthcare.
You can make the LPA now but it will only become effective when you choose to allow your attorney to act under it or when you lose mental capacity. Your attorney or attorneys can only do what you want them to do and only with your approval – it's only when (and if) you lose mental capacity that they can take over and make financial decisions for you. If you don’t have an LPA then your loved ones would have to make an application to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed with all the expense and delay such an application will involve.
With both types of LPA, you can set out what decisions you want someone else to make for you. You can choose anyone you trust to be your attorney – they just have to be adults (but not bankrupts) and willing to act for you in what is a very responsible role. They must at all times make decisions in your best interests.
For your protection, your LPA must be signed by a "certificate provider" – usually a solicitor – who certifies that you understand the LPA and that no one has pressured you into signing it. You can ask someone you know well (who isn't one of the attorneys) to give the certificate – they will be notified that you are making an LPA and they will be able to raise any concerns if they think you are being pushed into something you may not be entirely happy with.
Once made, the LPAs are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian so that there is no doubt about what you wanted. We can advise you on the sorts of decisions you might want someone to make for you and we can prepare, certify and register the LPAs for you. It's not a lengthy, expensive, or difficult process and it will give you and your family some peace of mind.
If you would like a free initial discussion with no obligation, please ring firstname.lastname@example.org 020 8313 1300.
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.