What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Lasting powers of attorney are documents that you have to put in place while you don’t need them, a bit like a Will. But a Will takes effect when you die, and records who gets your financial assets because you don’t need them any more. Lasting powers of attorney are for your lifetime.
If you’re unable to make decisions any longer because of illness or an accident, the friends, family or professionals you have chosen become responsible for managing your affairs and your best interests. They are called your attorneys, but they don’t need any legal training or qualifications. Most people choose their partner, brother or sister, their children, or a combination.
There are two types of lasting power of attorney. One for your property and financial affairs, and this can be used to pay your bills, manage your income and expenditure and deal with property matters.
The other lasting power of attorney covers your health and welfare. It allows your attorneys to make more personal decisions, such as what you eat, where you live, what you wear, who visits you. It can also give authority for your attorneys to speak to doctors as though they are you, about life sustaining treatment.
Adults of all ages should consider making lasting powers of attorney at the same time as Wills. You might think lasting powers of attorney would only be only useful if you develop dementia, but we never know what’s in store in life; a stroke or a car accident, as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, could mean you need the support a lasting power of attorney can provide.
We don’t know our own expiry date, and we can’t predict how long we will be in good health, but to know you have appointed the right people in your LPAs to take charge, provides real peace of mind.
It’s important to understand you can’t wait until something goes wrong, and then ask to have them in place. The law doesn’t allow this. Creating lasting powers of attorney after an accident, stroke or other debilitating event, is not possible. You really do have to act before you need them.