By Annabelle C Jones LLM – Solicitor
In this time of uncertainty, looking after yourself, as well as our loved ones, has never been more heightened, from shielding and social distancing to hand gel and face masks – we are all thinking about it.
Also, we are generally living longer, and it is important to put in place the facility for others to assist us in making the choices that we would want, when we would want them, and not relying on the courts to do so. The importance of having a Will in place for when the inevitable happens is well known. Sadly, it is easy to overlook how decisions will be made in the event of becoming incapacitated through illness, accident or old age.
For example, if you were hospitalised for a long time, who would look after your finances? Who would make decisions regarding the medical treatments you should have? Most people believe that their partner or siblings can make these choices for them, unfortunately this is not true, even your partner is not allowed to make decisions about a joint account should you lose capacity.
However, a Lasting Powers of Attorney, or LPA, as they are more commonly known, will give you control over what happens to you if you should lose capacity. Once an LPA has been registered then the person, or people named within it (your Attorneys) are entitled to make decisions with you and on your behalf.
An LPA can be set up to enable your Attorneys to have varying amounts of control, when they are allowed, or not allowed to make choices and how those choices have to be made. There are also other measures available to ensure your safety.
There are two types of LPA, a Property and Financial Affairs LPA and a Health and Welfare LPA. You can have different Attorneys for each LPA, so you can select the best person to deal with the different aspects of your affairs. Your Health and Welfare Attorney can only make decisions should you lose capacity, whereas you can choose if your Property and Financial Affairs Attorney can make decisions prior to losing any capacity.
All being well, you will never require the protection of an LPA, but I would advise anyone to consider setting up an LPA, so that in future you will be in control of who can make choices that directly affect you.
Annabelle C Jones is a freelance solicitor and LPA specialist, regulated by the SRA.