Lasting Powers of Attorney

This is a recent article which was published in the Petham and Waltham Parish News…….

As you will have read Advance Decisions are legally binding and enable you to refuse specific medical treatment. With an Advance Statement you can set out your preferences, wishes, values, and beliefs about your future care – this is not legally binding but it must be taken into account.

Lasting Powers are legal documents through which you give people you trust (your attorneys) authority to make decisions on your behalf. These are powerful and valuable documents which should be entered into with care.

The potential for loss of mental capacity is not limited to later life – this is something that everyone should put in place. The key benefit is enabling people you trust to take action on your behalf when you are unable to.

If Powers are prepared earlier in life they will give the same protection in the event of incapacity as the result of illness or accident. Making a Power now does not mean that you give up any of your own rights, just that you have an arrangement in place enabling your chosen Attorney to take responsibility for some or all of your affairs if you need them to.

There are two types of Lasting Powers:

  • Property & Affairs: enables your attorneys to deal with your property and finances; and
  • Health & Welfare: authorises your attorneys to make welfare and healthcare decisions on your behalf, but only when you lack mental capacity to do so yourself. This also extends, if you wish, to giving or refusing consent for the continuation of life sustaining treatment.

You should take care over who you appoint. They should be trustworthy and have appropriate skills to make the proposed decisions. You can and should wherever possible appoint more than one attorney and you can require them to always act together (jointly) or preferably together or separately (jointly and severally). You can appoint them to act jointly for some things and jointly and severally for others but this should only be considered after taking advice, as it can cause difficulties. You can also appoint successors to your attorneys in case they are unable to act.

The Attorneys can only act when your Lasting Power:

  • has been signed by you and your attorney(s); and
  • has been certified by an independent person (the certificate provider) that you: understand the nature and scope of the LPA; have not been unduly pressured into making it; and there has not been any fraud or another reason why you cannot make it; and
  • has been registered with the Office of Public Guardian.

The financial Power can be used both when you have capacity to act and if you lack capacity to make a financial decision. The welfare power can only be used if you lack capacity to make a welfare or medical decision. Following the Mental Capacity Act 2005, capacity is assessed on a decision by decision basis.

It is worth planning ahead. When someone becomes incapable of managing their affairs it can be a very difficult time for all concerned. At least with Lasting Powers in place issues can be dealt with more easily.

Let us help you prepare your Lasting Powers – contact us on 01227 700 702 or email info@argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

Published by Simon Crooks May 2015