The end of one year and start of another is as good a time as any to get your house in order. So this week and next, we’ll look at a legal document that’s arguably almost as important as a will, yet not nearly as well known – the Lasting Power of Attorney.
This document enables people you trust to make decisions on your behalf when you are alive but are unable to make decisions for yourself or simply do not wish to.
One important point to understand early on is that there are two different types of lasting power of attorney – the Property and Financial Affairs LPA and the Health and Welfare LPA. Although their titles are fairly self-explanatory, it’s good to have a much better idea of the implications of each in order to know which – or both – documents you need.
In this week’s blog we’re going to look more closely at the Property and Financial Affairs LPA.
Having a Property and Financial Affairs LPA in place means that you have someone who can manage your finances such as pay your bills, deal with your investments and sell your property. This can make all the difference to your children if they are supporting you through an illness and arranging care for example.
Without this document, they would have to apply to the Court of Protection in order to run your finances, something which could take several months and likely add more stress to an already difficult time.
Illness aside, the Property and Financial Affairs LPA can also be used if you are abroad on that long-awaited trip around the world – you can leave your finances in someone else’s hands for a while.
It goes without saying that you need to completely trust the attorney that you choose to make decisions on your behalf. However, you can also have more than one attorney if you wish and you can have a replacement attorney if your original attorney is unable to act on your behalf.
And so long as you have mental capacity, you can change your mind about the power of attorney and remove and/or replace them.
In terms of when you should get this document in place, if you are aware that you may need help with your finances in the future – perhaps due to a dementia diagnosis – then it’s essential to get this arranged. Many people also like to have it arranged as a precaution in case there is an accident or unexpected illness.
Ensure you give yourself a few months to get things finalised. After deciding who you trust to be your attorney, the document must be signed by yourself, your future attorney(s) and a witness. The witness is known as a certificate provider and is there to confirm you understood what you were signing and that you were not pressurised into it.
Once the document is signed, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian – a process which can take approximately 10 weeks.
If you would like to organise for a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, please get in touch with Louise Williams at Hutchinson Thomas on 01639 645061.
Next week we look at the Health and Welfare LPA…