Who is going to make decisions for you when you can’t? The answer may surprise you….
If something was to happen to you and you couldn’t make decisions about your finances or personal wellbeing, your family or friends would be able to make them for you and look after you, right? Alarmingly, this assumption isn’t strictly correct.
If something was to happen to you, whether through illness or injury and you have lost mental capacity, it would be down to the Court of Protection to appoint someone to look after your affairs. This appointment could be any person who applies for a deputyship order or, in extreme cases, may be a member of the local authority. The deputyship process is a very long and, in most cases, expensive process for your loved ones to go through during an already stressful and emotional time. It makes the process of looking after your affairs more complex, especially if your family need to make decisions about your health or access funds quickly. This is particularly important to anyone who has jointly owned assets (bank accounts, property etc.), as any decision that would need to be made in relation to those assets will have to wait until any deputyship application had been finalised, meaning they may be unable to access money quickly.
Just as you should make a Will to decide who will deal with your estate when you pass away, setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney will allow you to decide who will make decisions for you if you are unable to.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA); one which will look after your property and financial affairs, and one that will look after your health and welfare needs. The property and financial affairs LPA will allow your chosen attorneys to manage anything to do with your money and assets, from buying your weekly food shopping to selling your property and managing any investments you have. The health and welfare LPA will allow your chosen attorneys to make decisions including anything from your day-to-day diet and dress to choices about long term care and consenting to medical treatment.
The important thing is that Lasting Powers of Attorney can only be put in place whilst you have the capacity to do it, meaning once you have lost capacity it is too late.
At BakerLaw, our private client team have specialists on hand to meet with you and discuss these documents so you fully understand what they can do, and they can be drafted to meet your specific requirements.
This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.