“What happens if I can’t look after things any more?”
If you have already made a Lasting Power of Attorney then the people that you trust
take over your affairs. If not, it could be anyone who takes control - including
even the local authority.
Lasting Power of Attorney
We all know that there might come a time when we are too frail to look after our
own affairs - perhaps through sudden illness or accident, or maybe just because of
gradually advancing years. Whatever the reason - who would pay your bills, manage
your savings, or even speak on your behalf on medical matters?
If you have created a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) then it is the person (or people)
that you have chosen who will take over. If not, then it could be a relative that
you don’t trust who takes control, or even the Local Authority - spending your money
or deciding which care home to put you in. You can only make an LPA when you are
still mentally capable – so putting it off now might mean that it cannot be done
The LPA legislation came into force on 1st October 2007, replacing the rules for
Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA). Existing EPAs remain valid but only deal with
your financial affairs. It is only LPAs that can be made from 1/10/07 onwards and
they come in two flavours :-
LPA Property & Financial Affairs (LPA-PFA) dealing with financial matters such as
your house, bank account, savings.
LPA Health & Welfare (LPA-HW) dealing with healthcare, medical matters and so forth.
The person (or people) you appoint as attorney(s) must act in your best interests
and the assets all remain yours. Indeed, the attorney is under an obligation to help
you continue making your own decisions - so an LPA can give you more control, not
less. Your Will writer can help you make the right choices for the LPA and it is
often best created at the same time as making a Will.
What happens if there is no LPA? Your friends or relatives would have to apply to
the Court of Protection, in order to be appointed your Deputy. They may need to make
multiple applications. Each application can be a lengthy process, with significant
expenses including annual costs of many hundreds of pounds. The choice is taken away
from you, which might mean that someone you do not like could take control of your
finances or could be appointed to speak on your behalf on personal issues.
Lasting Power of Attorney: Helping others to help you
An attorney might need to register the LPA or an existing EPA, with the Office of
the Public Guardian (OPG). As ever, a home visit service is available from InHouse
to help with this process. Further information is also available from the OPG.
As part of the process of considering an LPA you might also want to consider an Advance
Decision (sometimes also called an Advance Directive or a Living Will). This is a
statement of your wishes concerning concerning your medical care. It can allow you
to make clear exactly you would wish to be treated in certain situations - so that
even if you cannot speak for yourself you views can be taken into account.
LPA - letting you choose who handles things in your best interests.