5 Lasting Power of Attorney Myths: Busted
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When you’re looking forward to your retirement, it’s important to keep track of who’s got the best interests of your assets at heart. You may not be considering the security of your pension and savings, your mortgage or even your utility bills at this moment in time, but planning ahead is the best way to ensure you and your family are prepared for anything the future may hold.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
According to gov.uk, a Lasting Power of Attorney is (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘Attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.
This gives you control over what happens to you if you can no longer manage through ill health or simply because you find it difficult to hear. It may also be due to a deterioration of your mental health and can no longer make your own decisions (you ‘lack capacity’).
There are 2 types of LPA; one that covers your health and welfare, and one that deals with your property and financial affairs.
A Health and Welfare LPA covers decision-making in areas such as your medical care, life-sustaining treatment and even relocation into a care home or sheltered accommodation.
A Property and Financial Affairs LPA is used to give the attorney you choose the right to make decisions about your assets, such as managing bank accounts and debts, collecting benefits or your pension, or selling your home.
Here are five of the most common myths we hear about lasting powers of Attorney, and why we advise our clients to secure their own LPA’s, no matter their age or circumstances.
1. “Next of Kin” is not legally binding – True
One of the most common myths about legal decision-making is that your next of kin will be able to make big decisions on your behalf should you lack the capacity to do so yourself. This is not the case.
No one person can act on your behalf unless they are legally authorised to do so – whether this is to do with your assets or your health.
2. A Health and Welfare LPA can only be used when you cannot make your own decisions – True
Some people are reluctant to secure a Health and Welfare LPA as they feel it will relinquish their control over their own treatment. This could never happen.
Your Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. This is a difficult subject to discuss with your loved ones, but it will mean that no matter what happens, you wishes will be carried out by a person you trust to act in your interests.
3. “I can wait until I need one” – False
The truth is, the sooner you instate your LPAs, the sooner you’ll be happy in the knowledge that everything is taken care of, should the unthinkable happen. If you do not have capacity to give instructions, you cannot get an LPA, it is too late. The Court may decide to appoint a Deputy to manage your affairs which is both costly and much more restrictive. It can take more than six months for a Deputy order to be awarded. Your health can deteriorate rapidly in this length of time, meaning that your loved ones would be powerless to make important decisions in your best interests, until the Order comes through.
Don’t wait and see. Ensuring your Lasting Power of Attorney is in place well in advance will mean you can spend those months enjoying time with your family, rather than worrying about what could happen against your wishes.
4. “Getting an LPA is expensive” – False
The first point to make here is that at DRN, we can offer bespoke services to enable you to plan and enact your Lasting Power of Attorney affordably and efficiently.
Secondly, last minute applications for Deputy Orders are far more expensive than LPA’s. If you do not have an LPA and you become unable to make decisions, your family may need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a Deputy in order to help you. At present, an application for a Deputy to be appointed by the Court may cost more than £2,000 in costs plus court fees. It is always more affordable to put plans in place yourself, in good time.
5. A property and financial affairs LPA can be used as soon as it is registered – True
If you wish to give somebody you trust the legal ability to act on your behalf in your financial affairs, you can do so even before you lose the capacity to act yourself.
A property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney will be valid for use as soon as it is registered, meaning your chosen Attorneys can make decisions for you from this moment. This is particularly beneficial should you need to concentrate your energy on receiving healthcare treatment, or want to get your finances in order before a condition worsens.
If you are planning for the future, an LPA should be a vital part of your plan. As well as bringing peace of mind, they ensure your wishes are carried out exactly, and put the power of your decisions in the hands of those whom you trust to do their best for you.
If you have any concerns or questions about what an LPA can or can’t do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. The DRN team are skilled in drawing up LPA’s, and can talk through any misconceptions you may have, and put your mind totally at rest.
To talk to our team of expert lawyers today about starting the Lasting Power of Attorney process, please call 01282 433241 or email email@example.com