Appointing someone you trust to take decisions over your affairs should you become incapable of managing them is becoming increasingly popular, says Tracey Wright, partner at Stephens Scown.
With life expectancy continuing to rise, we face new challenges and considerations. The incidence of people becoming mentally incapable of managing their affairs is on the increase. What if this happens to you? How will you pay your bills? Where will you live?
As is so often the case, planning is by far the best option. Drawing up Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) will give you peace of mind that your affairs will continue to be dealt with by someone that you trust. You can appoint more than one attorney if you wish and even appoint replacement attorneys in the event of your preferred attorneys no longer being able to act for you. Your attorneys can even act for you whilst you are still capable of making decisions for yourself, meaning that if you become physically frail or simply no longer wish to manage your finances this can be delegated to them. And while you are still capable and wanting to do so, you can continue to deal with your financial affairs for as long as you wish. This is not a case of giving up your independence or the right to deal with your own affairs.
So what if you lost capacity to make decisions about your medical treatment? Who would make decisions for you? To ensure that it is people who are close to you, you can make a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare. Your attorneys can only ever make these decisions for you if you lack mental capacity to do so yourself, and if you have good days and bad days then you would continue to make these decisions on your good days but your attorneys could step in as required.
The Health and Welfare LPA is often overlooked but is a very important document and can even include the ability to make decisions regarding life sustaining medical treatment. Of course, some people prefer to remove this difficult question from their loved ones, leaving these decisions to be made by medical staff.
And don’t worry if you live your life according to certain beliefs, or like to deal with your affairs in a particular way, as you can give your attorneys guidance on all of those matters in the LPA document itself or in separate guidance letters.
There have been recent changes to LPAs and it is now possible to set them up online. But be careful here: think about the advantages of having it set up for you professionally. Don’t overlook the benefit of impartial and experienced advice where you are open to discuss, for example, the concerns you might have about a particular child being appointed as attorney. Additionally, your attorneys will be aware that you sought legal advice on drawing up the documents and so are more likely to feel bound by its terms. Online may seem quick and easy, but face to face professional advice brings peace of mind. It is not just a form filling exercise.
If you have any questions or would like advice on LPAs then please do contact Tracey on 01872 265102 or email email@example.com.