Guides & Advice

The importance of a Lasting Power of Attorney

Published: 30th March 2021
Area: For the individual

Broadcaster Kate Garraway is just one of many experiencing the devastating effects of COVID-19, with her husband Derek continuing to face a year-long battle in hospital. In addition, this has been complicated further for Kate by the lack of legal protection in place.

In her recent documentary, Kate opened up about the financial struggles she was facing as a result of the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). As Derek was named on many of the household bills and insurance policies, Kate has been unable to manage her husband’s care or refinance her mortgage.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation. While many people think to put a will in place, which takes legal effect after the will-maker dies, LPAs can sometimes be forgotten.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

An LPA is a powerful document that is prepared in advance and is invoked when an individual loses mental capacity as a result of an accident or an illness. Having one prepared safeguards personal wishes and, most importantly, allows a trusted family member or friend to make important decisions on the donor’s behalf.

Secondly, an LPA for financial affairs can also be used if a donor requires temporary assistance with financial or property affairs in their absence, such as a spell in hospital or a stay abroad.

As an LPA is a sensitive and complex document that lasts for the entire lifetime of the donor, it is best to seek the help of a professional when writing one, and ensure that this is kept under regular review.

What is the role of a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Anyone who agrees to act as an attorney for an individual needs to fully understand the role and what their role and duties will be. Our handy blog sets out guidance for attorneys acting under a lasting power of attorney.

When should I arrange Lasting Powers of Attorney?

Regardless of health, everyone should consider LPAs. These can be written for anyone from the age of 18 and typically take eight to 10 weeks to process. Accidents and illness can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, so it is advisable not to leave this exercise until you begin to feel unwell or mental capacity starts to become an issue.

What are the types of Lasting Power of Attorney?

There are two types of LPA; one for property and financial affairs, and another for health and welfare. If required, different attorneys can be appointed for each and in the event something happens to an attorney, a replacement can be appointed.

Although these are separate documents, it is highly recommended that the two are prepared and registered at the same time to ensure that any necessary decisions can be taken by the donor’s family, and to ensure that all assets are accessible.

Read more frequently asked questions on powers of attorney.

The consequences of not having a Lasting Power of Attorney

In the event the donor loses mental capacity, and does not have an LPA in place, loved ones will be required to apply for the right to manage their financial and health affairs through the court. Consequently, taking this matter to court can often be a lengthy and costly process.

Therefore, setting up an LPA whilst capacity is present can prevent loved ones from additional stress during a difficult time.

How we can help you

A devastating accident or illness can happen to anyone. Having an LPA in place can provide peace of mind that in the event that mental capacity is lost, your personal wishes will be carried out and fulfilled by those you trust.

We can advise and support you with creating your lasting powers of attorney. Learn more about the process by getting in touch with our private client team, and we’ll arrange a free call back at a time to suit you.

Our private client team is ranked as a Top Tier Firm in the Legal 500 2021 edition.

Our updated guide to recovery and resilience covers everything you need to navigate your way out of lockdown, unlock your potential and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found on our dedicated coronavirus resource hub.  

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

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