Sussex: 01273 956270
Surrey: 01252 471211

Powers of Attorney

ARE LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY MORE IMPORTANT THAN A WILL?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a very important document appointing people to look after your affairs if you lose mental capacity.

Everyone knows they need a will to protect their family, but would your family cope if you were suddenly unable to sign documents or make decisions? Without LPAs in place the answer is almost certainly no.

There are two types of LPA (health & finance) allowing your family to make important decisions if you lose mental capacity. Without both in place there can be very serious consequences and difficulties in carrying out the most basic tasks of everyday life.

There is one important rule with LPAs: you should make them well before they are needed. This is because you can’t make them once your mental capacity is impaired, which could happen suddenly following an accident or stroke.

THE FINANCIAL LPA

This document appoints people to look after your money and property.

If someone in the family loses mental capacity many basic things such as bank accounts, pensions, insurance, tax, utilities and property can’t be managed, disrupting the functioning of everyday life. The only option for a family faced with this situation where there isn’t a financial LPA in place is to apply to the Court of Protection for a court order. These expensive applications take about 6 months and require your family to account to the court for any money they spend.

“It’s a very long, drawn out and quite intrusive process. It’s also expensive. Mum will have to pay hefty yearly fees too. I just wish we’d managed to get Power of Attorney instead, when Dad was more capable. He got ill very fast and we couldn’t implement it.”

It’s always tempting to put off making powers of attorney in the hope they will never be needed, but the truth is almost everyone needs them one day, even if it’s just so your family can give you a hand with your paperwork. So it’s far better to sort it out sooner rather than later.

Some people fear making powers of attorney because they think they will lose control of their money but this is not true. You will always have full control over your money, property and health decisions while you have mental capacity. Your family will only deal with your affairs if you ask them to or if a doctor confirms you are not capable of making informed decisions. You can also revoke a power of attorney at any time so long as you have mental capacity.

The consequences of not having powers of attorney are so awful that we recommend everyone over 18 having these documents in place, although the need becomes particularly acute once you reach retirement.

CASE STUDY

Imagine your spouse has a stroke leaving them unable to sign documents. The house you are living in is not well equipped to care for them so you decide to move to a more suitable property to help their rehabilitation. The problem is you won’t be able move because both joint owners must sign the sale documents. You will be stuck there unable to sell the house or to access their accounts (even to pay for their care) until your spouse recovers or you obtain a court order for sale of the property.

THE HEALTH LPA

This document appoints people to take health decisions for you if you lose capacity.

Health LPAs were introduced in 2008 to help with the agonising problems faced when a relative who lacks capacity is in hospital. The family are not entitled to see confidential medical records and cannot easily discuss or challenge decisions if they feel their loved one isn’t getting the best treatment. Even spouses can be excluded and powerless to help and support their husband or wife.

The Health LPA helps because it gives trusted people authority to consult with doctors and take health and care decisions, so they are in a position to push for better treatment if it becomes necessary. In the most serious situations, such as where there is a resuscitation decision to be made, it means people will be there to speak on your behalf and tell doctors what they think is in your best interests. Without this document such decisions would be left in the hands of medical staff who almost always have to resuscitate even when they know it will only give you a few more hours of poor quality life.

It’s important to remember that most people in hospital who lack capacity are not suffering from dementia but are people who are unconscious or on medication following an accident or people who are unable to communicate following a stroke. Health LPAs are important documents for people of all ages to have in place; without one there may be no one who can help when you need it most.

The people you appoint as your attorneys can also make care decisions, so if a local authority is pushing you around and perhaps suggesting you should go into a nursing home against your wishes, you’ll have someone to fight your corner and help you stay in your own property and get financial support. It’s reassuring to have people with your best interests at heart making important decisions if you aren’t able to.

CASE STUDY

Imagine a close relative is in hospital taking longer to recover than expected. You ask a doctor to discuss the treatment options. The Doctor refuses because it would divulge private medical information. You are left feeling your loved one isn’t getting the best available treatment, and wonder whether it’s because Doctors are keeping an eye on costs and not prescribing more expensive medication even though it may give positive results. It’s important there’s someone with power to challenge decisions if necessary.

YOU CAN’T MUDDLE THROUGH WITHOUT A POWER OF ATTORNEY

Many people think they’ll somehow muddle through without LPAs, but this isn’t possible in most cases. Here are some surprising facts:

  1. A signatory on a bank account can only operate an account legally if the account holder has full capacity.
  2. The term “Next-of-Kin” has no standing in law and they don’t have authority to take decisions of your behalf.
  3. Your spouse can’t see your medical notes or take medical decisions on your behalf without official authority.

SOONER IS FAR BETTER THAN LATER

Crucially, you can only make LPAs when you have mental capacity – you can’t wait until you need them as by then it’s too late to make them. If you are currently sorting out your will it’s an ideal time to think about powers of attorney as you can get all your affairs at the same time.

LPAs may not be the nicest thing to think about but it’s simply something everyone should get round to doing. The good news is we have made the process simple and affordable, and once it’s done, you’ll have the comfort of knowing you’ll be protected no matter what the future brings.

Prices

Individuals

£295+vat for one LPA (Health or Finance)

£395+vat for both.

Couples

£395+vat for one LPA each (Health/Finance)

£595+vat for both types of LPA for both people

*We recommend registering LPAs so they are ready to use immediately if needed. The court charge £82 per document to do this (there’s no additional charge from us)

OFFER

We are currently offering to do both LPAs for the price of £350+vat

Click Here to Download Leaflet

 For more information, please contact:

GoodLaw Solicitors