The term Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) may sound like an exciting TV series, but it is in fact a very useful legal document that people really ought to consider having in place alongside their Will.
An LPA is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity in the future or if you are worried about managing your affairs in the future. This person is called an Attorney.
You can have more than one Attorney and these can be anyone you chose such as family members or close friends. Clearly, they should be people you trust explicitly. One could be a professional adviser, such as a solicitor, who could oversee the activities of the main Attorney.
There are two different types of LPA. One of them covers decisions about your property and finances, and the other covers decisions about your health and welfare. You can choose to have one or both.
You can appoint the same person or persons to be your Attorney for both LPAs or you can choose different Attorneys.
The LPA will only be valid if you have the mental capacity to set it up and have not been put under any pressure to create it.
It must be countersigned to this effect by a trusted third party and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
If you are married or in a civil partnership do not assume that your spouse will automatically be able to deal with your finances and make decisions about your healthcare. This is not the case as, without an LPA, they will not have the authority.
We recommend that everybody has an LPA in place as mental capacity can be lost or diminish suddenly, as a result of a serious accident or suffering an illness.
An LPA is especially important for older people as our bodies seem to be increasingly outlasting our minds. In fact according to the Alzheimer's Society there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025. This is expected to soar to two million by 2051.
As mental powers reduce, attempting to deal with financial issues, can cause frustration and confusion and increase a person’s vulnerability.
An LPA can certainly provide some peace of mind for all concerned.
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