What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why do you need one?
Prior to meeting us most of our clients believed that a Lasting Power of Attorney was only required by the elderly.
If you lose capacity through illness or injury the Office of the Public Guardian will make decisions on your Property and Finances as well as on your Health and Welfare. Is that what you would like or would you prefer that people who know you a little better made those decisions – such as your spouse / partner and / or children?
Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, if your loved ones wish to contest any decisions enforced by the Office of the Public Guardian they will have to begin a potentially long and costly appeal process through the courts with absolutely no guarantee of a successful outcome. On the flip side, taking the emotions out of it, how would you feel if your partner / spouse lost capacity and you had to apply to the Court of Protection for access to your joint bank account let alone perhaps selling the home you own together?
If the above paragraph disturbs you then you should consider having Lasting Powers of Attorney over your Property & Financial affairs put in place.
And how about your Health and Welfare? Who do you think would be best placed to make decisions on the kind of care you receive – a stranger or those who love you most? What if you were most unfortunate and suffered damage or illness so severe that you were kept alive only by machine with absolutely no hope whatsoever of making any kind of recovery?
A) want your kids coming into visit you each day to look at their mum or dad alive but looking lifeless?
B) do you think the time might come when those who love you most ought to be able to make the heart wrenching decision on refusing life sustaining treatment allowing you a peaceful exit and allowing them to rebuild their lives?
There is no right or wrong answer here but if you prefer option B then you need to consider having Lasting Powers of Attorney over your Health & Welfare put in place.
There are two stages to putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place. The first stage is drawing up the document and the second stage is registering it. As of 1st October 2013 the cost, charged by the Office of the Public Guardian for registering a Lasting Power of Attorney is £110.
The majority of clients don’t register the documents at the same time as having them drawn up due to the expense and the fact that they may never need the Lasting Power of Attorney. For this reason it is imperative that a professional draw them up for you so you can be sure they will do their job if the time comes to register them. You should be aware that the registration process takes around two months on average due to the processes that must be met. Your consultant will discuss both options with you should these documents be of interest.
There are lots of things to consider with or without these documents and again, as with Wills, everyone’s situation is different but with the careful guidance of your consultant you will be given the option of ensuring that if you lost the ability to make decisions for yourself, your loved ones don’t have to spend the rest of their lives answering to the Court of Protection.