Lasting Powers of Attorney: The Practicalities.

Let's start with the basics for those who don't know what Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are. There are two different Lasting Power of Attorney documents; one for your Property and Financial Affairs and another for your Health and Welfare.

There is a misconception that you should only prepare LPAs when you need them. This statement could not be further from the truth.

It may even be too late to put them in place if you do not have the mental capacity to prepare such documents.

Alternatively, you should prepare LPAs just in case you need them. You hope that you never will, but if you do, they're priceless.

Property and Financial Affairs.

The finances document can be used as and when you feel that you need assistance. Karla Cope, the founder of Kindred Estate Planning explains: "my grandad is the perfect example of how a finances LPA should be used".

"Tom is the big 80 next year, and thankfully, he is as fit as a fiddle. He loves going out and about, he often goes to the gym and tells me about how he and his buddies mock the "young ones" as he calls them, he pays his bills at the post office, and he, therefore, doesn't need any financial assistance with any of his day-to-day finances".

"However, put Tom on the telephone and he struggles!"

"We, his attorneys, therefore use his LPA to assist him with anything that is done over the phone".

"If we need to contact any of the utilities, his TV subscription, the Council etc. then the LPA gives us the authority to do so. If he ever became poorly and needed us to take on more of his financial responsibilities, we would have the power to do so straight away. And let's hope it never comes to this but, if he ever became incapable of looking after his finances, we would be able to do everything for him".

At the moment, he tells us what he needs help with and what he doesn't. It's as simple as that".

It is worth noting that the finances LPA is not about losing control.

Having a finances LPA is about ensuring that you have the freedom to choose who should look after your finances if you are ever found yourself in a position unable to do so.

The scenarios in which the finances LPA can be used are endless. You could be stuck in a foreign country, you could be in the hospital, or you might even lack the mental capacity to look after your finances. Having a finances LPA in place will mean that your attorneys can step in and act for you.

Health and Welfare.

The health LPA is completely different from the finances LPA.

The health LPA can only be used when you lose your mental capacity. So, whilst you can decide, for example, where you want to live, the type of medical treatment you would like to receive, clothes you want to wear, the music you like to listen to, no-one can take that away from you.

However, if you lack the mental capacity to make any of those decisions, and without a health LPA in place, your family does not necessarily have the authority to make those decisions for you. Even though they may be the best people to do so.

The health LPA also has a section that covers life-sustaining treatment. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to make decisions about what type of treatment you would like to receive in the future. It simply provides medical professionals with guidance. It states whether you wish for your attorneys to be, either, included in any life-sustaining treatment decisions or whether you would like to leave that solely to the medical professionals.

Your attorneys would only be consulted if you did not have the mental capacity to make that decision yourself.

If we use Tom as an example again, yes he has a health LPA but no it is not currently being used because he has the mental capacity to make those decisions himself.

It is important to understand that LPAs are not documents only to be prepared by the elderly. LPA documents needed in all walks of life; business owners, co-habiting couples, married couples, single persons. Each individual may find themselves in a position where they unexpectedly need an attorney to act for them and without registered LPAs, it may be impossible to do so.

If you wish to discuss your own circumstances, please click contact above, complete the form and we will be in touch.

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