Old age and mental health are viewed as two of the main reasons for putting in place Lasting Powers of Attorney. But have you considered what happens if you have an accident, are out of the country for a long period of time or temporarily lose the ability to make decisions about your finances and health care?
A Lasting Power of Attorney gives authority to people of your choice to make those decisions and everybody over the age of 18 should consider putting one in place.
It is a common misconception that, if you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse can automatically make decisions about your finances and health care. This is not the case and unless your spouse is appointed in a Lasting Power of Attorney as somebody to make decisions on your behalf, they are unable to do so.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney: one for decisions about property and financial affairs and the other for health and welfare decisions. Your circumstances and wishes should be taken into consideration when creating Lasting Powers of Attorney and you should take advice to ensure that the documents can be used as you intend.
A Lasting Power of Attorney can only be made when you have the mental capacity to provide instructions and understand the power the document gives.
If you lose the mental capacity to do this and a decision needs to be made, it will be necessary to apply to the Court of Protection to make decisions for you. The person appointed by the Court may not be who you would have chosen to act if you had the choice. The Court application can take time at a point when you are vulnerable and there are ongoing Court imposed costs which are payable from your assets.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are important and powerful documents which, when drafted correctly, allow those chosen to make decisions about your financial affairs and health and welfare that are in your best interests.
You should seek advice from an experienced legal adviser to ensure you have considered all aspects. If would like to discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney in more detail please get in touch.