A lasting power of attorney (LPA) document allows you to legally appoint a person or people to manage your decision making should you be unable to make them yourself. This may be due to an illness or accident that leaves you without the mental capacity to decide what is best for you. Although it might be difficult to think about this type of arrangement, it can be an important part of ensuring your wishes are met no matter what happens.
An LPA will allow you to give someone the legal right to make decisions on your behalf regarding things like your health and welfare or your property and finances. If something happens to you that leaves you in a condition whereby decisions about your life are impossible to make, a trusted individual or group of people of your choosing will be able to make choices they deem best for you and your life. LPAs are included as part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which is the law that informs you of how you can plan ahead in case you reach a stage that leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself.
An ordinary power of attorney is applicable only if you are capable of making decisions yourself, whereas an LPA is intended for a time when that is no longer possible. For example, a power of attorney could be a temporary appointment of someone to make financial decisions while you are away on holiday or you are struggling to get out and would like someone to be allowed to access your accounts at the bank or post office. An LPA, on the other hand, gives someone you trust the legal authority to take over all decision making instead of you.
Yes, your next of kin do not have any legal authority over your care or finances unless they are appointed in the LPA. There are two types of LPA: one that deals with health and care and one that deals with property and financial affairs, so you will need to make sure you have trusted people appointed to both, and that both have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
No, LPAs do not give the appointee any legal right to change a will. They may view the will, unless there is specific instruction to the contrary, but they will not be able to make any changes. Any will that is written or changed by a lasting power of attorney will be invalid.
The main disadvantage for many is the idea of giving so much power to another person, or people, in a legally binding way. It can be an intimidating concept that leaves you feeling somewhat powerless, but this is the reason it is vital to only appoint those who you trust implicitly. Another downside is that, as mentioned, you will need two separate LPAs to cover both the medical and financial aspects of your life.
It is always important to think about the future and how you will be able to continue to live comfortably and fairly should you be unable to continue making decisions for yourself. Speak to an adviser about LPAs today and make an informed choice for you and your loved ones.