Unfortunately, it is a common assumption that most of us think our next-of-kin or loved ones will be able to make crucial decisions regarding our health and welfare if we are no longer able to do so.
However, without the appropriate legal documents in place, making this happen can be complicated.
This situation was highlighted earlier this year when ITV aired a documentary, ‘Finding Derek’, which followed Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway throughout her husband’s long battle with Covid-19.
This poignant documentary also highlighted how this heart-breaking situation had been made more complicated by the lack of legal protection she and Derek had in place. Kate has been unable to access funds to manage her husband’s care or refinance her mortgage. Furthermore, despite being married, she did not have the legal right to see his medical notes, owing to data protection.
Research shows that whilst there has been a recent rise in the number of enquiries regarding setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs) during the pandemic, only 22% of people in the UK have a legally valid LPA in place.
According to Which? 22,000 LPAs registration applications are rejected every year, so it is essential to seek the advice of a specialist lawyer who can provide the right expertise to guide you through the decision making and registration process.
Here we look at the importance of LPAs some frequently asked questions.
WHAT IS A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY?
An LPA is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to make decisions on your behalf about your property and finances, or health and welfare. An LPA can be used at a time in the future when either due to an accident or ill health, for example, you cannot make decisions for yourself. When you make your LPA, you must be over 18 and have the ability mentally speaking to make your own decisions.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY?
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
LPA for property and financial affairs – this allows the named attorney(s) to manage your financial and property matters, including managing a bank or building society accounts, paying bills collecting a pension or benefits if necessary, selling your home
LPA for health and welfare – this allows the named attorney(s) to manage your health and personal welfare issues and can include care and medical treatment decisions if need be.
You can choose who should make financial decisions and who should make health and care decisions for you – and this doesn’t necessarily need to be the same person.
WHY SHOULD I PUT AN LPA IN PLACE?
Without an LPA in place, your family and loved ones will not be able to make decisions for you or handle crucial aspects of your healthcare and financial affairs in the way you would have wished.
You could even have joint bank accounts frozen, making it necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to handle your affairs. The procedure can be lengthy and expensive, and it could end up being controlled by someone you would not have chosen for yourself.
It is crucial to speak to an experienced professional who will guide you through the process and thoroughly consider your individual circumstances. Not instructing an experienced solicitor may mean that hidden complexities are not considered.
LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY SOLICITORS NEAR TRAFALGAR SQUARE
Our specialist Wills and Estate planning lawyers based in London offer extensive advice regarding LPAs combined with an efficient service for their preparation and registration. We provide expert legal services delivered in a caring and sensitive manner. We can guide you through the process and give you peace of mind that you will have a properly prepared and registered LPA that will ensure your choices regarding health, welfare and finances are followed through according to your wishes.