“In many ways, a Power of Attorney is more important than a Will,” stated personal finance expert Martin Lewis OBE recently on his ITV advice show. In his special feature on Lasting Powers of Attorney, he explained why it’s important to make one as early as possible, and what could happen in the future if you don’t.
This was a bold statement from the Money Saving Expert. Whilst most adults understand the importance of making a Will – and the risks you take by not having one – many do not understand the benefits of including LPAs in your estate planning arrangements.
If you didn’t catch the programme, you can still watch it here or read our post below, which covers all the key points.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a nominated person or persons (your attorney/s) authority to make decisions on your behalf – in the event that you are no longer able to. This might be because you have lost mental capacity or for another reason.
You must have mental capacity at the time you make the LPA.
Your attorney should be someone you trust to make the right decisions on your behalf.
There are two types of LPA:
A property and financial affairs LPA gives your attorney the power to make decisions about money matters, for example:
- managing a bank or building society account
- paying bills
- collecting benefits or a pension
- selling your home.
A health and welfare LPA gives your attorney the power to make decisions about your care such as:
- your daily routine, e.g. washing, dressing, eating
- medical care
- moving into a care home
- life-sustaining treatment.
You can make both types at the same time if you wish.
When should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
The answer here is simple: as soon as you can. Whilst you may be fortunate to never lose mental capacity, the fact remains that if you do it will then be too late to make an LPA.
What happens if I lose capacity and DON’T have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
It may be necessary to apply to the Court of Protection to appoint an attorney for you. This can be a long and costly process that places even more emotional pressure on an already difficult situation.
Key points to note:
- Any financial, property and welfare decisions will be ‘on hold’ until an Attorney is appointed
- It can take as long a 4-6 months for an Attorney to be appointed by the courts
- Your loved ones would not be able to access joint assets or sell a jointly-owned property
- You would have no say in who the Court appoints as your attorney and it may not be someone you would choose.
- You would have no say in the ‘scope’ of the powers of the Court-appointed attorney.
Court application fees, assessment fees and solicitors’ fees mean the process can be very expensive – especially compared to the cost of making an LPA.
How do I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA is a legal document that your Attorney will need to prove their authority, if and when they need to step in to make decisions for you. Martin Lewis advocates having them drafted professionally* to ensure they are set up correctly and that you have access to the right legal copies at the right time.
Following an initial fact-gathering consultation, RfM Legal Services can complete the process for you for a fixed fee.
Arrange a free consultation today
RfM Legal Services offer a free initial consultation to discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney and/or your other estate planning needs, such as Wills and putting assets into trust. This can be at a time and place of your choosing and you are not obliged to act on the advice you receive. To arrange an appointment, please call Sharon Rigden or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Please note, the prices quoted on The Martin Lewis Money Show Live programme on 14 March were for guidance only. RfM Legal Services will provide a personalised quotation based on your requirements.
Image used under Creative Commons License. Attribution: Dhjeekw, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons