A Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) is sometimes known as a ‘living will’. This is because it is the means by which you are able to appoint someone trusted to make key decisions for you should lose the ability to do so yourself, this is called a ‘loss of capacity’.
The person you appoint to make these decisions is known as the ‘attorney’ (you would be known as the ‘donor’ when making such a document).
Types of LPA
There are two types of LPA: a ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA and a ‘Property and financial affairs’ LPA. These are separate documents intended to guide your attornies in the management of health and financial matters, respectively.
Health and Welfare LPA
The ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA permits your attorney to make a range of decisions with respect to your welfare including (but not limited to) matters as critical as the delivery of ‘life sustaining treatment’. Remember, life sustaining treatment may include things you consider mundane, such as provision of asthma or diabetes medication.
Property and Financial Affairs LPA
The ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ LPA permits your attorneys to make decisions about the management of your money and property. This might include matters such as payment of bills, collection of benefits etc.
A really important difference between the two is that the ‘Health and Welfare’ document may only be enacted when you can be shown to have lost capacity. The ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ document applies as soon as it is registered with the authorities (this is because such documents are often used by those travelling abroad to permit management of assets locally).
To take effect, these documents will need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. You will need to make decisions around matters such as :
- Who will make decisions on your behalf?
- How these are to be made?
- Who should be notified when these LPA’s take effect?
These documents are more important than ever for two key reasons.
If you do not have these documents in place, bodies such as the Local Authority may have free reign to provide you with services at costs determined by them. We are aware of cases where four figure fees have been withdrawn for doing little more than signing a letter once a month.
The process of negotiating (and occasionally litigating) around such procedures can elevate expenditure to another level altogether.
Put simply, more people than ever need these documents. Historically infrequent afflictions are now common place. Leading reasons for loss of capacity include: dementia; stroke/brain injury and mental health problems. This year in the UK, one person was diagnosed with dementia; hospitalised with brain injury or deemed lacking in capacity under the mental health act, every minute.
If wrangling or indecision affects enactment of your wishes, the impact may extend well beyond the administrative costs described above. Deadlines may be missed, penalties incurred, benefits lost. Medication depleted.
Fees for creation of these documents are minimal, costs of failing to do so great – Feel Free to Speak to Confidence Wills for Guidance