What is a Lasting Power of Attorney

Have you been advised to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, but don’t know what one is or why you would ever need one?

Here, Anna-Marie Knipe, partner and expert in private client services for the elderly at Preston-based law firm Birchall Blackburn Law answers some frequently asked questions and explains the legal lingo.

I’ve just made a Will and my solicitor has suggested that I also make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), but it seems expensive. Why should I make one?

There are compelling practical and financial reasons for making a Lasting Power of Attorney. An LPA safeguards your wishes if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself because of an accident or an illness like dementia. There are two types of LPA; one for Property and Financial Affairs and one for Health and Welfare.

Most people wouldn’t dream of not insuring their house on the basis that the insurance might not be needed. Similarly, the LPA may never be used, but if it is, life will be much easier for your family who can take steps to safeguard your assets and ensure your wishes are met.

What might happen if I don’t make an LPA, and subsequently lose mental capacity?

An application would have to be made to the Court of Protection on your behalf, typically by a family member, who would be appointed as your ‘deputy.’  This can be a distressing, lengthy and costly process. The question to ask yourself is ‘Can I afford not to make an LPA?’

I am adamant that I do not want to go into a care home if I can’t look after myself in the future. What is the situation legally?

If you have capacity to decide where you should live, you can make it.  If you can’t communicate your wishes, for example due to the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, your future would be decided by Social Services and healthcare professionals in consultation with your family to make a decision in your best interests.

How can I make sure my wishes are met?

By making a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare. The legal document enables you to appoint an attorney to make health and welfare decisions for you if you lack capacity to do so yourself.  These decisions include deciding what you should eat, what you should wear, and decisions about life sustaining treatment.

How soon do I need to act?

You can only make a Lasting Power of Attorney if you have mental capacity to do so. This means it is important to put arrangements in place at the earliest opportunity to give you and your family peace of mind for the future.

At Birchall Blackburn Law our lawyers are specialists in all areas of Elderly Client law and are experts in guiding clients and their families through the legal process in a sensitive and sympathetic manner.