When we all need a helping hand
We know what a Lasting Power of Attorney is….right?
It seems pretty well known what a Lasting Power if Attorney is. It’s had varying names over the years; General, Enduring etc. But the principle has remained the same, we can appoint other people to act on our behalf if we need to. There are 2 types of LPA’s which can be applied for individually depending on the needs and priorities of the circumstances. The first type of LPA is for Financial and Property affairs, and the second is for Health and Welfare matters. LPA’s can only be applied for while the Donor (the person who is giving permission for someone to act on their behalf) has mental capacity. After this point then a court order must be sought which a more complex and timely process. Perhaps the biggest question is Why would we want or need someone to act or our behalf? My years of working in bank branches tells me the top reason is age related. Younger family members would come in to perform transactions or make enquiries for less able (either physically or mentally) relatives. So we’d be forgiven for thinking that getting our own LPA’s put in place can wait, as there’s loads of time right? Hopefully! But there are other reasons LPA’s can be needed, lets have a think.
There are plenty of reasons other than old age that you might not be able to visit the bank; moved abroad, working abroad, armed forces. A temporary physical restriction such as an injury or operation. An extended stay somewhere like Love Island, or prison! Another factor to consider is that actually traditions like visiting the bank are becoming less and less, with more transactions being online. But with an ageing population, many of whom can’t, or won’t, keep up to speed with technology, an LPA could still help ensure their affairs stay up to date, even if they can’t. An example I recently encountered where a Financial LPA was required was for a couple in their very early 60’s, still very much active, working and able. However an operation lead to complications and the wife was left paralysed from the waist down. This huge change meant that she had an extended stay in hospital and rehabilitation units as she re-learnt to live day to day. While this was going on, the husband needed to sell the house to move to somewhere that could be adapted for life with a wheelchair. With the property in joint names he couldn’t do this alone. Thankfully as she still had complete mental capacity, an LPA could be applied for, but with the current application time at around 3 months, and that court costs are involved, it was not an ideal time to be experiencing such things. The LPA allowed her sibling to act alongside the husband to sell and buy the properties without her needing to attend a bank or be troubled by the process at all. After a total of 13 months since she went in for the initial operation they are now settling into their new home, and the LPA although was used on many other occasions, can now be put away and used again in the future if needed.
Health and Welfare LPA
Have you ever wondered who decides which nursing home you’ll stay in if you’ve lost mental capacity and the need arose? Well that would be your next of kin, unless you have appointed someone else with this type of LPA. Your next of kin could be your child, or sibling, would they understand what you would have really wanted? Would they be able to put those wants and needs ahead of their own preferences for convenience/cost? Maybe someone else would be better placed. Within this type of LPA other huge responsibilities can be given over – such as empowering your Attorney (person/people acting on your behalf) to make life sustaining care decisions. It is likely that some of us have had conversations, or been informed by others at which point of a major health deterioration they would no longer consider themselves able to enjoy life. Maybe a relative has had this conversation as they would like you to inform doctors of their decision if they were unable to. Unless you have been appointed Power of Attorney then doctors are not at liberty to accept this information from you. Maybe that’s a blessing, it is a huge decision to make, and a Health and Welfare LPA can be created without giving this direction. This type of LPA can be really helpful for relatives helping to care for someone with mental health issues. As long as the LPA has been applied for while the Donor has mental capacity, it would then allow the Attorney to speak more directly with health professionals and support the situation more directly.
We support and layer LPA’s just as we do our Wills to help reduce the need to re-draft in the future, it should therefore be a one off expense. Once an LPA has been registered, it can be revoked by the donor at anytime, so changes can be made at anytime if needed.
Applying for an LPA takes longer than writing a Will, involves more people and costs a little more. So it’s advisable to plan and get things in place sooner rather than later. I’ve also found that the common link most people hold between LPA’s and mental capacity can make talking about it a little harder for older clients. We can create your document no matter where the the Donor and Attorneys are as we work over the phone and build our application packs be be really clear and easy to understand for all involved.
Remember, advice is free so get in touch with any questions or scenarios you would like to discuss. This might not be top of your agenda, but what about your parents/older relatives? They’ll thank you for talking to them about it, and it will make your life easier if you need to help out in the future.