Myths about Lasting Powers of Attorney
If you want to plan for the future, it’s important to get your facts straight. Unfortunately, there are a number of myths that surround LPAs. This post will aim to debunk some of these myths about LPAs and give you some useful information about how LPAs work, who can make one and when they are needed.
A Lasting Power of Attorney, is a legal document that is used when you loss capacity to make decisions for yourself, whether medical or financial.
Myth 1: I don't need an LPA - my family will be able to sort everything out for me
It’s important to have a plan in place for when you are no longer able to manage your own affairs. The plan should be prepared well in advance, and the most important part of that process is ensuring that you are comfortable with the people who will be involved in its implementation. Your loved ones need to be aware of your needs; however, an LPA will put your wishes into a written, legally binding document to help them to fulfil your wishes.
Your Will Writer or Solicitor can help you with this, by explaining what options are available and what they entail.
Once written this document can be stored securely alongside any other important documentation, such as your Will. Feel free to discuss document storage with a member of the team.
Myth 2: If I make an LPA, I am giving up control over my own affairs
If you have an LPA, it’s important to understand that it does not replace your will. An LPA is a legal document that allows a person to appoint a trusted person to look after their affairs if they lose capacity. This appointed person is referred to as the attorney, deputy or proxy.
The court will make the final decision about whether an individual has lost mental capacity and can no longer make their own decisions. If this is the case, then the attorney will be able to exercise powers included in the original document (A Property and Financial Affairs LPA) such as making decisions about finances, property and legal issues on behalf of their client (the person who made them).
If you have a Health and Welfare LPA, this allows your Attorney to give or refuse consent to medical treatment and to decide where you live based on your previously discussed instructions. These decisions can only be taken on your behalf when you are unable to make them for yourself, for example, if you are gravely ill, unconscious or suffering from a condition like dementia.
Myth 3: LPAs are only for people who are elderly, infirm or seriously unwell
LPAs are not just for the elderly, infirm or terminally ill. You do not have to be in a nursing home or to only be used by people with disabilities that make it difficult for them to manage their own affairs. In fact, the majority of LPA applications come from people who have no physical disability but who may have a mental health condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease which means they need help making decisions about their finances and healthcare.
Furthermore, a Health and Welfare LPA can be in place even if you are perfectly healthy, this will give instructions in the event that you become suddenly unwell or have an accident.
Myth 4: Our money is in a Joint Account, so we will still be able to access our money if one of us loses capacity.
Legally, if the bank learns that one of the owners of a joint account has lost capacity, it is likely going to freeze the account as one of the account holders can no longer consent to the use of the funds held in said account. However, the policy your bank employs for loss of capacity may vary from bank to bank. A Property and Financial LPA is a legal document which can ensure that your partner can still access both theirs and your joint funds.
Myth 5: You can get power of attorney from a stationery shop or from a bank. You do not need a solicitor.
Although technically this is true, f you want to make sure that what you sign is legally binding, it has to be drawn up by someone who knows their stuff, who is qualified and registered – in other words, by an experienced Will writer or solicitor, they will also be able to advise on all aspects of an LPA and help with any problems which may arise during its lifetime.
Setting up an LPA does not mean that your affairs will be sorted forever; it’s likely that at some point in your life you’ll need another one (called an ‘amending’ LPA), as your circumstances change and your own wishes can alter over time too.
This post has hopefully helped you to get a better understanding of the facts and myths around LPAs. We hope that this information is useful and that it helps you make an informed decision about whether or not to make an LPA. More information about LPAs can be found at the .gov website here
If you wish to discuss anything in relation to your Will or LPAs, please feel free to contact a member of the team at Glamorgan Legacy Ltd.