Lasting Powers of Attorney are extremely important, but surprisingly many people do not have these in place. Lasting Powers of Attorney allow you to appoint someone to act as your Attorney to represent your best interests and to carry out your instructions, not only in property and financial matters but also in personal health and welfare matters in the event that you lose the capacity to do so yourself.
Situational Example: Fictional Mr Smith, an aging widower who puts a Legal Power of Attorney in place
Let’s take Mr Smith – he is a widower and is increasingly having difficulty dealing with his finances. He finds it difficult to sign cheques and struggles to get to the bank. He grants a Lasting Power of Attorney, appointing his two children as his Attorneys, to deal with his property and financial affairs. He trusts his children implicitly. Once this Power of Attorney has been registered his children can begin acting on his behalf, even whilst he still has capacity to make decisions for himself if he wishes them to do so. In this case, his children have to consult with him and can only act on his behalf with his permission. Mr Smith also grants and registers a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare at the same time, again appointing his two children. This Power of Attorney however cannot be used until Mr Smith has lost capacity.
The impact of having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place for Mr Smith’s family...
A few years later, Mr Smith suffers a stroke and loses capacity to make decisions for himself. As Mr Smith had already registered both his Lasting Powers of Attorney, Mr Smith’s children have the authority to act on his behalf. They are able to access his accounts to pay the necessary bills and collect his pension. Mr Smith later has to move into nursing care and his children are able to pay for this care from his finances and have the ability to sell his house if they need to. The whole process is smooth and Mr Smith’s children are able to concentrate on spending time with their father. As Mr Smith also granted a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare for his children to act as his Attorneys, they are able to choose the care home he stays in, make decisions about his day-to-day care and make the arrangements needed for him to be given medical, dental and optical treatment.
Situational Example: Fictional Mrs Thomas who lives on her own and doesn’t have a Legal Power of Attorney in place
Now, on the other side of the scale, let’s look at Mrs Thomas – she lives on her own and does not have either Lasting Power of Attorneys in place. Mrs Thomas suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and her condition deteriorates to a point where she loses capacity to make decisions for herself. As she has lost capacity she is unable to make a Lasting Power of Attorney to appoint someone to look after her affairs.
The impact of not having a Legal Power of Attorney in place for Mrs Thomas’ family:
Mrs Thomas is moved to a care home, but does not have the capacity to pay the fees. Her house needs to be sold as she can no longer live there and requires the funds. As Mrs Thomas has lost capacity without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, it would be up to someone, for example a relative or a friend, to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed to look after her affairs. This is a much more time consuming and expensive process than preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney, and ultimately the person applying to the Court may not be the person Mrs Thomas would have originally trusted to look after her affairs.
So, as you can see from looking at both sides of the coin, putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place should really be at the top of your priorities in order to make sure that when needed – your trusted appointed person has the full ability to act on your behalf.
If you would like to discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney in more detail and in confidence please feel free to give me a call on 01908 660966 (Milton Keynes office) or speak to my colleague Ellen Stiles on 01604 828 282 (Northampton office) You can also email me on: Kathryn.firstname.lastname@example.org