Who would look after your affairs if you had an accident or were seriously ill?
|If you had an accident, became suddenly seriously ill or found yourself in the early stages of ill health, have you ever thought about:-|
- Who would manage your bank accounts?
- Who would pay your bills?
- Who would maintain your property and deal with a sale, if necessary?
In these circumstances, dealing with your financial affairs would become difficult, if not impossible. This is because there is no-one, legally, other than you, who has legal authority to do this for you. Neither your spouse, close family or friends, would have any automatic authority to deal with these matters, unless they have a Lasting Power of Attorney. By having a Lasting Power of Attorney, you can be sure that those you trust can manage your affairs and make decisions for you, if the worst happens.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which enables you to plan in advance and set out ahead of time what you would like to happen if you become incapable of managing your affairs in the future. In the document, you can appoint one or several “attorneys” who can make decisions on your behalf in this eventuality. There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney:-
Health & Welfare
A health and welfare document – which gives your attorney authority to make healthcare and welfare decisions for you, but only when you lack mental capacity to do so yourself. This could also extend, if you wish, to giving or refusing consent to the continuation of life-sustaining treatment
Property & Financial Affairs
A property and financial affairs document – which gives your attorney authority to deal with your property and finances.
When Should I Make One?
You can only make a Lasting Power of Attorney whilst you have capacity to understand the nature and scope of the document. You must choose a person to certify within the document that you have the capacity to make the Lasting Power of Attorney. It is also important to discuss all these matters with family and friends, particularly those who you choose to appoint as your attorneys, whilst you are able to, so that your chosen attorneys are well aware of your wishes in the event that you do lose capacity.
Who Should I Appoint as my Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a very important legal document and you should take care in choosing your attorney. They should be trustworthy, have the appropriate skills to look after your affairs and be able to act in your best interests.
You can appoint a sole attorney or if you appoint more than one attorney, you can appoint them to always make decisions together (a joint appointment) or you can enable them to act together or separately (a joint and several appointment) if necessary.
You can also consider appointing a replacement attorney, in case your attorney can no longer act for you or dies.
When Can Your Attorney Act?
Your attorney will only be able to act when the Lasting Power of Attorney has been signed by you and your attorney(s), certified by a person that you understand the nature and scope of the document and have not been unduly pressured into making it. It must then be registered with the Office of Public Guardian before it can be used.
The property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney can be used both when you have capacity to act, as well as if you lack mental capacity to make a financial decision, should you wish it to do so. This can be useful if you are expecting physical difficulties but are otherwise capable.
The health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used if you lack mental capacity to make healthcare or medical decisions yourself.
Existing Enduring Powers of Attorney
Any Enduring Power of Attorney, if validly executed and prepared before 1st October 2007, can still be used. However, Enduring Powers of Attorney only cover your financial affairs and not any decisions relating to your health and welfare.