…and why is it such an important document? There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), one to cover your Property and Financial affairs and one for your Health and Welfare. In this article Sarah White, a solicitor in the Thompson Smith and Puxon Wills and Estates team, discusses the importance of having an LPA for your Property and Financial affairs in place.
This type of Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to nominate one or more people, each known as your attorney, to manage your property and financial affairs in the event that you are no longer able to do so. This type of LPA is becoming increasingly necessary as many of us are living longer and dementia in our later years is, unfortunately, a real possibility. The LPA can also be used to assist you before capacity is lost, giving you the time to explain exactly what you want your Attorneys to do. Therefore, even if you are mentally capable of managing your affairs on a day-to-day basis, it may be that you are hindered by physical constraints – perhaps you are deaf, blind, or simply cannot get around as well as you used to. Once the LPA has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, the official body which supervises these types of document, you can delegate to your attorney(s) any matter(s) which you may be finding difficult to handle.
If you do not set up this document whilst you have capacity and you then lose the capacity to make decisions about your property and financial affairs your family would not able to access any of your sole accounts or investments as, without a valid LPA, financial organisations are only able to speak to the account holder due to client confidentiality. In effect any assets in your sole name would be frozen. This could, as you might imagine, be extremely upsetting and stressful for your family.
In this situation, in order to access your finances someone (a family member or a friend perhaps) would have to apply to the Court of Protection to become your Deputy. The person or people who apply may not be the people you would have chosen to act on your behalf if you were in a position to choose for yourself. Also, an application to the Court of Protection is much more expensive that putting an LPA in place, and acting as a Deputy a much more onerous role than acting as an Attorney, as keeping detailed accounts is often required.
If you have a family member or close friend who you trust to manage your property and financial affairs in the future when you are no longer able to do so then you should consider putting this type of LPA in place. For help and advice Sarah can be contacted on 01255 254265 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org