Lasting Power of Attorney – Don’t Leave it TOO LATE!!
Whenever I see clients about their Wills, I always mention Lasting Powers of Attorney at the same time, because in my eyes, they are equally important. In the same way none of us wants to die, none of us wants either to be in a state of mind where we are unable to make our own reasoned decisions – but it happens. Don’t leave it too late to do this, as it will involve all sorts of unwanted extra bureaucracy and costs (as I keep telling my clients, who still insist that they have no intention of “losing their marbles anytime soon!)
The first thing to properly understand is that just because you are a family member, or next of kin to someone, you do not have an automatic right in law to “take over” the running of another person’s affairs if that person cannot manage those affairs for himself. Legally, it has to be done through the use of a Lasting Power of Attorney, which has been raised on pre-prescribed forms and properly registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (O.P.G.).
The second thing to understand is that if the person concerned has lost capacity entirely, it is no longer possible to make Lasting Powers of Attorney for them in the normal way, but only by an application through the Court of Protection for a “Deputyship Order”, which is where the O.P.G. is appointed alongside a family member as Attorney. They then monitor all the Attorneys’ actions and require regular reports and audits – for all of which they charge substantial fees. This is something SO easily avoided by making Lasting Powers of Attorney in good time, before any signs of waning capacity.
If someone loses the mental capacity to make reasoned decisions on his/her own account – or indeed, just as importantly, if that person cannot get out and about any more, to the bank for example, because of a physical impairment (which may only be temporary), a Lasting Power of Attorney is the document which will , when properly raised and registered at the Office of the Public Guardian, be officially accepted by all the financial institutions and government departments as the “legal recognition” that the Attorney(s) named within the documents have been nominated by the person concerned (the Donor) to “act on their behalf” because they are either physically or mentally no longer able to do so.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney – One which covers all matters concerning Property and Financial Affairs and the other which covers all matters relating to the person’s Personal Welfare issues (such as personal healthcare, medication and whether life-support machinery should be kept on or switched off for example). From this, you will see that not only are there some very serious issues to be considered, but also Attorneys MUST be chosen with great care and caution! These documents essentially pass all your worldly goods in to the hands of the Attorneys during your lifetime (not after your death) and therefore, you MUST chose your Attorneys with great care – the primary consideration being, “Do I Trust Them?” If not, – DON’T APPOINT THEM!
More information can be found here Lasting Power Of Attorney