A Lasting Power of Attorney is a powerful legal document enabling you to choose and appoint a trusted individual(s) known as your Attorney(s) to handle your affairs if you cannot look after yourself through mental or physical incapacity. Your Lasting Power of Attorney will reflect your wishes and needs.
There are two different types. The first is a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs which allows the person(s) appointed to make decisions about paying bills, dealing with banks and investments, arranging and collecting Benefits and even selling property on your behalf.
The second type is a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare. This allows the person(s) appointed to make decisions for you such as care issues, where you live and, if you wish, giving or refusing consent to life sustaining treatment. Also to deal with Health and Social Care professionals as if they were you.
What happens if I do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
You may have had discussions with loved ones about your wishes should the unthinkable happen, commonly life sustaining treatment, medication and long term care. Unfortunately, those wishes may be irrelevant if there is no Lasting Power of Attorney as a doctor or the Local Authority will want to make a decision on your behalf. Also, bank accounts and investments could be frozen along with standing orders and direct debits to pay bills in your name. Having a joint bank account with another would not stop this happening where the bills etc are in your sole name.
Once you have a medical condition as a result of a stroke, Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is too late to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney. Also, you could become mentally incapable as a result of an accident, illness or old age. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, the only way your financial or health affairs could be managed would be by an Application being made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This is something where it is not uncommon for the cost to exceed £3,000 in Court and solicitors’ fees. A Deputyship Order can take between three to ten months to obtain depending upon the complexity of the case. This can cause a financial burden for your loved ones having your assets frozen during this period. Once attained, the Deputy will be under strict rules, eg they must report to the Court/Office of the Public Guardian often and may have to submit annual accounts for approval and even receive periodical visits by a Court Visitor. A Deputy must account for every penny spent on your behalf and can even involve requests for money being made to the Court in writing.
The cost for a single Lasting Power of Attorney is £240 plus VAT but if both types of Lasting Power of Attorney are taken out at the same time, the cost for both will be reduced to £375 plus VAT. These costs pale into insignificance compared to the alternative cost of having to make an Application for a Deputyship Order which is the only alternative if the worst happens to you.