What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you’re no longer able to or if you no longer want to make your own decisions.
There are a number of reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf:
- This could just be a temporary situation: for example, if you are in hospital and need help with everyday things such as making sure bills are paid.
- Alternatively, you may need to make longer-term plans if, for example, you have been diagnosed with dementia and you may lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions in the future.
So shouldn’t everyone have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
Yes, but wasn’t Denzil Lush, a retired senior judge of the Court of Protection, recently quoted on the BBC’s Today programme saying LPAs are putting people at risk of exploitation by family members, neighbours or acquaintances.
What happens if I don’t have an LPA?
Without an LPA in place, family members or professionals acting on your behalf would be unable to step in and act. They would be forced to go through the long and expensive process of applying to the Court of Protection to obtain the necessary authority.
The key is to choose your Attorney carefully
This could be your Spouse, your children, a relative, friends or professionals (Solicitors or Accountants), but whoever is appointed must be totally trusted and competent and also recognise that they have legal responsibilities under the Mental Capacity Act.
What are the potential problems if I don’t have an LPA?
In extreme cases, you may be unable to sell your property and downsize if the property was jointly owned. More commonly, joint bank accounts are frozen if one party loses mental capacity and the other party is then unable to access funds form the account.
If you have a question about Lasting Power of Attorney, please give us a call on 01825 76 33 66 or email us.