Lasting Powers of Attorney – LPA’s
These came into force in 2007 with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney. There are 2 kinds of power of attorney, one for Health and Welfare and the other for Property and Financial Affairs, in other words: one dealing with medical decisions and one dealing with money. Between these two LPAs, your attorneys should be able to make every decision that might be needed (as long as the LPA is unrestricted).
They are incredibly useful and cover the situation where something has gone wrong, but you are still alive, as opposed to Wills, where something has gone wrong and you’ve passed away. They allow others around you to help you, which is good for you, but also good for those around you that are otherwise feeling helpless. It can be a burden though, if your need is intense and/or goes on for a long time.
They have to be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used and in addition, the Health and Welfare one cannot be used until you have lost mental capacity.
Like Wills, they are a “plan” for those who are around to help. Most people don’t make Wills and even less people create LPAs, so not doing so should not be interpreted as a positive decision, but often is.
Attorneys have to be 18 years old, so once your children are 18 there is never a time when it is too early to create them, but can be a time when it is too late. Dementia does not strike in seconds, it is a slow(ish) onset, but if you think you are losing memory, create LPAs as a matter of urgency. The time when it is too late is when stroke or accident hits, which happens in seconds and your life is changed in a heartbeat. Although most people don’t have these kinds of incidents, they happen to some people and since you cannot predict the unpredictable, creating LPAs “just in case” is always a good idea. If your children are very young, then create temporary ones and revoke them later, if money is an issue, then don’t register them if you have to pay the registration fee, better a delay in helping with the registration process than not being able to help at all.
With my work as an Elderly Client solicitor, I see the enormous benefit of creating these, they allow someone near to you to help you and make decisions for you when you can’t do them for yourself. They help the families of the donor, as the family is able to do something for their loved one, even if they can’t cure dementia (or whatever the problem is), they can act as Attorney. I’ve had plenty of clients whose lives are made much better by creating these documents – so my simple message is: CREATE LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY.