The COVID pandemic has, without doubt, impacted our normal day-to-day lives. It has prompted many of us to consider how our affairs would be managed should circumstances change and we are no longer able to make decisions for ourselves. In such situations having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place can be can be immensely important. Our Wills, Trusts and Probate experts regularly advise clients on setting up LPAs and we have produced a short guide detailing the most commonly asked questions.
What is an LPA?
An LPA is a document in which you appoint a person or people of your choosing to be your attorney(s), so that they are able to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so in the future.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney available:
- Property and Financial Affairs, and
- Health and Welfare
What powers can you give your attorneys?
An LPA for property and financial affairs can be drafted to be used as soon as it is registered with the individuals consent OR to be used if the person lacks the necessary mental capacity meaning that they are no longer able to manage their property and financial affairs.
Under the property and affairs LPA your attorneys can manage your finances providing they act in your best interests.
If you choose the option to allow your attorneys to act as soon as the document is registered, this will mean that your attorneys can start managing your finances straight away provided they act with your consent and under your instructions.
The document can also be drafted to only be used if you lack the necessary mental capacity to manage your property and affairs yourself.
The property and affairs LPA allows your attorneys to make decisions in relation to your property, such as sale and purchase. Your attorneys will also be able to access your bank accounts to make payment of your expenses and ensure that you are receiving all of the income that you are eligible for.
Unlike an LPA for property and affairs, an LPA for health and welfare decisions can only be used if you lack the necessary mental capacity to make the decision yourself. Your attorney(s) would be able to make decisions in your best interests concerning where you should live and the treatment you should receive.
How may an LPA assist you during the pandemic?
During these uncertain times, many people are unable to attend the banks and building societies due to their own ill health or fear of catching the virus and the detrimental effect that the virus may have on them.
An LPA for property and financial decisions can created to allow the document to be used as soon as it is registered. This will mean that your attorneys can attend the bank on your behalf and manage your finances for you, with your consent and under your instructions. This may prove a very useful tool especially in the winter months if you feel unable to go outside into the cold or you are more at risk and wish to limit your physical contact with others.
Why is it important to consider appointing attorneys under an LPA?
If you do not have an LPA in place and you go on to lack capacity to make the decision for yourself whether that be through illness or injury, your family or friends would have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your deputy before they are able to make decisions on your behalf.
Deputyship is a more costly and lengthy process which can result in a period of uncertainty for your family and friends. Whereas, if you were to become ill or have an accident resulting in you lacking capacity, your LPA document can be used by your attorneys straight away provided it is registered. This may assist your attorneys in a time of uncertainty to reduce distress.
If you have suitable individuals who would act in your best interests, it is important to consider whether an LPA might be appropriate for you.
If you do not have anyone who would be appropriate to act but would like to consider appointing professional attorneys, Coffin Mew can act in this capacity.
If you would like to hear more information on how an LPA could help you, the Wills, Trusts and Probate Team at Coffin Mew would be happy to help so please do get in touch.