Planning for our care
PUBLISHED: 12:17 01 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:17 01 July 2016
Preventing a stressful legal and financial situation is the purpose of Lasting Powers of Attorney – put in place for peace of mind should you lose the ability to make key decisions, says Andrew Flannagan, head of wills, trusts and probate at Attwaters Jameson Hill solicitors in Hertford and Ware
Loss of mental capacity may develop gradually or it may strike suddenly, creating problems in dealing with a loved one’s financial affairs unless they have thought ahead and put a relatively simple legal arrangement in place.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are extremely useful documents which allow an individual to appoint a person or people they trust to act as their attorney(s) should they need help and assistance in the future.
There are two types of LPA covering a) property and financial affairs and b) health and welfare. Their remit is self-explanatory, and while clients are often concerned primarily about their property and financial affairs, in allowing someone access to manage their money when needed, the health and welfare LPA should not be overlooked. This LPA covers situations including moving into a care home, daily routine (for example dietary requirements, washing and dressing), medical care and life-sustaining treatment.
In the health and welfare document the individual is asked to name the people they want to be responsible for their health and welfare if and when they are unable to look after these needs themselves. Replacement attorneys can also be include if necessary. This LPA most often covers situations involving dementia but covers all situations involving a loss of mental capacity, including when that loss is sudden – for example due to a stroke.
An individual can decide in the document whether to give the attorneys authority to permit or refuse life-sustaining treatment. In the document this is defined as care, surgery, medicine or other help from doctors that is needed to keep a person alive. This is often important to our clients, especially those with strong beliefs regarding resuscitation.
The attorneys need to confirm in the document that they will always act in the person’s best interests. Safeguards are in place, including the reporting of abuse to the government’s Office of the Public Guardian.
LPAs are often compared to insurance policies, no-one wants to have to use them, but if they are needed they can be invaluable. Without an LPA in place, if a person loses capacity a deputyship order becomes the alternative. These applications made to the Court of Protection take longer, cost more and multiple applications may be required during the lifespan of the order.
If you need more information about LPAs or any other issues involving wills, estate planning, probate or deputyship, please contact a member of the team (0203 3937265) who will be pleased to assist you.