What happens if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself? Many of us would like our family members or close friends to be able to make decisions for us. But without a lasting power of attorney in place, our loved ones don’t have a say in important matters like how we should be cared for or what happens to our finances.
It can be uncomfortable to think about losing the capacity to choose what’s right for you, but it is an important topic to consider. When you make a lasting power of attorney, you gain the peace of mind that, should they ever need to, those closest to you can act on your behalf.
A lasting power of attorney is a legal document detailing who you would like to make decisions for you if you lose the mental capacity to choose for yourself. They are referred to as your ‘attorneys’.
You can choose whoever you would like to become your attorney; most people choose a partner, family members or close friends. Usually, people register between one and four attorneys, but there is no legal limit to the number of attorneys you can choose.
A health and welfare LPA gives your chosen attorneys the right to make decisions about:
• Social care
• Life-sustaining treatment
A property and financial affairs LPA gives your chosen attorneys the right to make decisions about:
• Your property’s maintenance
• Selling your property
• Purchasing items on your behalf
• Paying bills
You can register for just one or both types of LPA, although it’s a good idea to register for both.
None of us can predict the future. Registering an LPA is the best way to make sure that the right people can make decisions for you, should they need to.
84% of people in the UK would want loved ones to make decisions for them if they became too ill, but fewer than 7% have an LPA in place. (SFE)
In particular, people approaching old age, or those who have received an early diagnosis of a cognitive illness such as Alzheimer’s or dementia should make a lasting power of attorney.
Anyone over the age of 18 can make an LPA if they have the mental capacity to do so. It’s never too early to make one.
If you don’t have an LPA in place, decisions about your care and finances will be determined by a deputy – somebody unknown to you, appointed by the Court of Protection.
While family members can sometimes obtain court orders that give them the right to make decisions for you, this is often not possible, and can be an expensive, stressful process for those involved.
We can help you to create and register an LPA. Working alongside retirement specialists, we can offer helpful advice and practical support. Retirement specialists will help you to:
• Correctly fill out your LPA forms
• Notify your chosen attorneys and obtain their signatures
• Register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian
Although you can register an LPA yourself, if you make mistakes, it could be rendered invalid. It is always best to work with a specialist who can make sure your LPA is registered correctly.
“A lot of people don’t realise that if they don’t have an LPA in place, their family can’t make decisions for them. LPAs help to avoid a lot of unnecessary stress and upset during what is already a difficult time.”