Why do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?
November 10, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has caused many restrictions on our everyday lives. We have all felt the effects of the lockdown – missing our loved ones, getting used to queuing two metres apart for the supermarket, and more than likely consuming too much cake and alcohol.
Although we have started to see some more relaxed measures over the last couple of months, those over 70, and anyone with underlying health issues, will most likely be erring on the side of caution, especially as we head into the winter cold and flu season.
While you might be stuck indoors, you still need to manage your money and investments and pay bills. This can be tricky if you can’t get out of the house or prefer to stay away from the crowded high street. This is where an attorney comes in – they can do the running around for you!
Which type of ‘LPA’ do I need?
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). The most common, and one you’re most likely to need right now, is an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs.
In normal times, you’d need to decide whether to grant an LPA for immediate use or one that is only triggered once you are unable to handle your affairs yourself (for example, if you become cognitively impaired). If you’re looking for help with managing your finances due to the current situation, it’s likely you’ll want to appoint someone who can do things for you straight away.
Your attorneys need to be people you trust, such as close family members or friends, who are able-bodied and can carry out the tasks you’re unable to do yourself. Under this type of LPA the role of your attorneys is not to make decisions for you, simply to act on your decisions. This might include tasks such as opening or closing a bank account, paying bills from a different account, buying or selling shares or a property – anything that you could do yourself if you were physically able.
The second type is the LPA for Health & Welfare, under which your attorneys are entrusted to make decisions about your wellbeing. This is only implemented in the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It could include deciding on where you should live if you lose your mental faculties, due to illness or accident. Although it’s not nice to think about this possibility, it’s best to be prepared by having trusted attorneys in place who can advocate for you with social services, care home managers and doctors.
Ideally, you would discuss with your attorneys what you would want to happen if you were to end up in a position where you needed advanced medical care. The LPA form covers situations such as, whether doctors should perform life-saving procedures if required. Doctors will usually consult your family in this instance, but having an LPA gives your attorney the authority to make difficult decisions with your own wishes taken into consideration.
I need an LPA, what happens next?
Appointing someone else to act on your behalf in your affairs is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, which is why you want to make sure the process is carried out correctly. Using a legal professional will ensure that all of the paperwork is in order, so it’s not rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
We are also able to offer advice about who to choose as your attorney, how many attorneys you need, how they should make decisions (individually or unanimously), and what guidance or restrictions you can put on their authority. You will need a “Certificate Giver” to certify that you understand and have the mental capacity to make a power of attorney – this can be a GP or social worker, but it can also be a solicitor. Beth King, one of our partners, is happy to provide the certificate once she is satisfied you do have required understanding and capacity, and this will save you having to contact your GP.
Under usual circumstances, Beth would, see you in our offices or your home but at this time, she can arrange a video call to run through all of the details with you – all you need is an email address and a phone, tablet or computer with a camera.
We will then prepare and send you the forms you need to sign. Beth can call you again to take you through where your signature is required. You will need to ask a neighbour to witness the document but, unlike a will, you only need one witness. (Please note that your attorneys cannot be witnesses to your signature, but they can witness each other’s signatures).
Once you’ve signed the LPA, Beth will sign as the Certificate Giver and then send it to the attorneys. Once we have received their signatures, it will be sent to be registered. This can take about three months so it’s really important to start the process as soon as you can.
While we normally advise you have a Property & Financial Decisions LPA in place first, given the time it takes to register and with concern over Covid-19, we believe it is sensible to put a Health & Welfare LPA in place at the same time, in case you should find yourself taken into hospital.
Beth King is currently working from home and happy to answer any questions you might have and start putting your LPA(s) in place for you as quickly as possible. Please call 020 8313 1300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.