There is a general misconception that a Lasting Power of Attorney is a document to consider much later in your life. However, this is a key document to have in place before you lose capacity. Another misconception is that the kind of illness that would require an LPA to be in place would be dementia or Alzheimer’s again particularly associated with later in life. I have advised many clients that there are so many other illnesses/reasons that would prevent you making decisions for yourself to include (but not limited to) brain injuries, stroke or a mental health problem all of which are not limited to later in life and could happen at any age.
LPAs provide peace of mind that your financial affairs and decisions about your health and welfare can still be taken care of by your chosen attorneys when you lose capacity.
In the current pandemic and uncertain times, everyone should consider the need for a Health and Welfare LPA to enable their chosen attorneys to make decisions about their health care, if you are unable to due to not having the necessary capacity.
Likewise, with many people self-isolating completely, particularly those who fall into the vulnerable category, it may be helpful to understand what an LPA is and how this could be an essential document to have.
What is an LPA?
An LPA is a legal document which allows you (the Donor) to appoint chosen people (your Attorneys) to carry out duties on your behalf.
There are two types of LPA both of which must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used. These can be made at the same time or separately.
Finances and Property
Your chosen Attorneys can deal with the following on your behalf :-
- Access and operate your bank accounts
- Buy and sell property
- Pay your household bills
- Claim benefits and pension payments
- Pay care fees or private medical bills
This LPA can be used as soon as it is registered or when you lose capacity. Most people find it more beneficial that it can be used as soon as it is registered. This can be particularly useful if you are physically incapacitated. In the current climate this would also provide reassurance if you are self-isolating.
Health and Welfare
Your chosen Attorneys can make decisions only when you do not have the sufficient mental capacity about:-
- Where you should live
- your healthcare and medical treatment to include social and health care decisions
- day-to-day decisions about your personal welfare to include your diet, how you dress or daily routine, religious preferences.
- whether you given or refused life-sustaining treatment, on your behalf
There is a misunderstanding that married couples already have the power to make these decisions and this is not the case. Without a Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney you do not have the power to make these decisions for your spouse.
You should ensure that your Attorneys are aware of any of the above information that is important to you so they fully understand your wishes and can act in your best interests.
Can we still take instructions during Covid-19 lockdown?
Yes and we are working with new clients every day to ensure they are able to protect their families during these difficult times. We are taking instructions for Will and Lastings Powers of Attorney daily, we have even taken to conducting writing Wills in gardens and through kitchen windows to make sure we adhere to the proper social distancing measures.
In the current climate, where possible we are arranging for video calls via Zoom, WhatsApp or Skype. Care Homes have been helpful in assisting residents to provide us with the means to arrange video calls with a Client during the lock down.
Our paramount concern when taking your instructions is to ensure you (the donor) understands the Lasting Powers of Attorney and the responsibility that comes with registering it. We need to be satisfied that you have the necessary capacity and also that your chosen Attorneys will act in your best interests.
A Lasting Power of Attorney can be made, cancelled or amended at any time whilst you have mental capacity.
What can we offer at Rothers?
Our Wills and Probate Team are available to take telephone appointments regarding Lasting Powers of Attorney, where we can discuss your needs and offer advice tailored to you. Initial instructions can be taken over the phone or email or a combination of these to meet your needs.
This enables us to ensure that particularly those that may be the most vulnerable are able to make a Will or changes to their existing Wills without being in close proximity of anyone. These can be signed by the Testator or by someone at the Testator’s direction.
At Rotheras we always pride ourselves in client care and despite the halt in face-to-face meetings we are still driven to maintain this.
No matter what stage of life you are at, we would always encourage you to draw up a Will. For advice on updating or drafting a new Will contact our Wills and Probate team on email@example.com or call 0115 910 0600.