What is a Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney is the term given to the General Legal Instrument by which you empower a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf.  The term has become to be used interchangeably in many circles, to actually mean the Lasting Power of Attorney ( LPA ).  The LPA differs from the general power of attorney in that the LPA Attorney acts for you when you have lost your mental capacity.   It covers matters of your finances, and/or, your health and welfare, whereas the general power of attorney ends upon a person’s loss of mental capacity.

The Lasting Power of Attorney saves you and your family money and stress.  It mitigates the need and costs, of having to depend upon the government’s Court of Protection ( COP ) which takes over a person’s life should they lose mental capacity.  The COP process is very costly, as well as slow to react to an individual’s ‘now’ situation.  And it is very impersonal.

Given that there is an ever increasing queue at the door of the COP offices, it is no wonder it is slow.  Over 25,000 families applied to the Court of Protection last year.  You can avoid that queue with an LPA, and ensure that people of your choice are ready to act for you immediately, in that time of need.  It also avoids the need for legal representation by the COP.

The LPA Attorney will deal with your “property and financial affairs”, and/or, your “health and personal welfare” matters.  And because the LPA is recognised by banks, insurers, doctors, carers, and other relevant institutions, as the legal instrument of the person who made it – the “donor”.  i.e YOU;  your needs are taken care of as if it were you present and speaking.

Why do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?

With advances in medicine and lifestyles we are all enjoying longer lives.  However, the downside to this is that advanced age has its own afflictions.  You probably know of someone who has been affected by it  –  Coma  –  Stroke  –  Heart attack  – Dementia.  These and similar conditions are not limited to age.  They can equally occur due to accident or illness which leads to loss of mental, and/or, physical capacity.

Treating these conditions and particularly Alzheimers Disease and other Dementia, can eat heavily into a family’s valuable estate due the need for personal care services.  Modern anti-fraud laws mean that if you do not have an LPA, and ‘it’ happens to you, then the Court of Protection ( COP ) rules your world.  This may cause lots of family stress and costs, because it is the sick person who must be protected.

The afflicted person’s bank accounts are frozen; even joint accounts a spouse or partner.  In a marriage – you vowed your fidelity, not any authority.  Without an LPA, such trauma invokes a long, costly and stressful journey for your family.  People making their Will, ask “when should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?”  Our answer is, make your Lasting Power of Attorney as soon as you can.

How to make a Power of Attorney?

To make a Lasting Power of Attorney, you can DIY.   However, as with your Will and other matters in this arena, in many cases it is not as straight forward as the hype may have you believe.  For example, the LPA power is invoked upon a person’s loss of mental capacity, and therefore it must be drawn up whilst they are still mentally fit.  It is far too late to think about it after the effect.  If you miss it; it’s gone.

Edmunds and Eve can help you set up your Lasting Power of Attorney to create an appropriate financial and legal plan for yourself and your family.  It will help mitigate costs and stress, as well as give you a guarantee that it works exactly as you want.

We ensure the person(s) you really trust is in place, so that your financial estate is protected and decisions about it and your health and welfare are made in your best interest.

Types of Lasting Power of Attorney

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney you can grant:

1. LPA for financial decisions

This type of LPA can be used whilst you still have mental capacity, or once you have lost mental capacity. Your appointed attorney (the person who makes decisions for you) has the power to withdraw money from your bank account and make decisions on such things as:

  • buying and selling property
  • paying your mortgage
  • handling your investments
  • paying your bills
  • arranging repairs to your property

2. LPA for health and care decisions

This type of LPA can only be used once you have lost mental capacity and you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  Your appointed attorney will generally be able to make decisions about your healthcare and personal welfare including:

  • where you should live
  • your medical care
  • what you should eat
  • who you should have contact with
  • what kind of social activities you should take part in.

The LPA must be certified and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used.

What is the difference between a Will and an LPA?

The Will and the LPA may appear to be similar beasts, however, they operate on completely different levels:

( a )  Your Will gives you control of how your wealth is organised and managed for your family after you die.

( b )  Your LPA protects your affairs if you lose your mental capacity through accident, illness or other health issues.  It by-passes the need for calling in the Court of Protection to involve itself in your life.  It will save a lot of expense and stress.

Why do I need expert help to make a  LPA?

The Lasting Power of Attorney is part of a good Estate Plan.  As Wills and Estate Planning specialists, Edmunds and Eve guarantee our service and ensure you understand the full implications and consequences of creating a Lasting Power of Attorney.  Our LPA certification services ensure that you are correctly advised and it fits what you really want and need.

Whilst nobody expects the worst to happen, and we sincerely hope it won’t, the relative probability of needing the LPA to be in place due to dementia, starts to increase rapidly from the age of about 55.    Yes; 55!   Last year over 25,000 families applied to the Court of Protection because they did not have an LPA in place.  And they paid out many £millions for the privilege.

If you would like to know more about how the law in this arena might affect you and your family, please feel free to call us for a confidential discussion on  – 0118 9 740 130 .  Alternatively, complete the email enquiry box below and we will be in touch shortly.

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