Here’s my article about Lasting Power of Attorney, published recently on http://www.sixtyplusurfers.co.uk/health-and-wellbeing/, which is a remarkably entertaining online magazine for over 60s! Whilst you’re there, it also has some very good, contemporary content about the challenges of self-isolation and working from home.
By Rebecca D’Arcy, Chiltern Wills
Now could be the perfect time to get around to putting in place your Lasting Powers of Attorney. All of us are concerned about Coronavirus, and are having to spend more time at home than usual.
Fortunately, unlike many traditional law firms, Chiltern Wills routinely prepares Lasting Powers of Attorney for clients all over England & Wales using virtual meetings via Skype and FaceTime, as well as telephone meetings.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you appoint a trusted person or people to act on your behalf, if you ever lost the ability to manage your own affairs. Lasting Powers of Attorney could be used if you became ill and had to go into hospital, or if you were involved in an accident, as well as if you developed dementia, or simply in later life. Your attorneys are under a strict duty to use their powers in your best interests at all times.
Many of us have seen the devastating impact of dementia in our own families. Making Lasting Powers of Attorney is a practical step you can take now, to give you control over who would be making decisions for you in that situation. You will have the reassurance of knowing that you have empowered your trusted attorneys to maintain your safety and comfort, and ensure you are given the dignity and respect that you deserve in your later years.
The irony of Lasting Powers of Attorney is that you can only make them if you do not currently need them, so it is important to put them in place before it is too late.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney – one financial and one medical.
1. Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs enables your attorneys to manage your finances for you, exactly as you can do yourself. For example to pay bills, use your bank account, deal with your investments and even to buy or sell a home for you. You can choose whether you wish your attorneys to be able to act immediately, or only if you were no longer able to understand and make financial decisions for yourself.
2. Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare allows your attorneys to make decisions about matters such as giving or refusing consent to medical treatment, staying in your own home with support from social services, moving into residential care, choosing a good care home and even your diet, dress or daily routine. There is also the option to give your attorneys power to consent to or refuse life-sustaining treatment. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare can only be used once the donor has lost mental capacity to make the decisions, and not before.
Enduring Power of Attorney
You may already have in place an Enduring Power of Attorney, made before Lasting Powers of Attorney were introduced in 2007. The good news is that this is still valid. The bad news is that it only covers decisions about your property and financial affairs, so it would be a good idea to make a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare to sit alongside it.
Once your Lasting Powers of Attorney have been signed, they need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which is a public body that oversees how attorneys use their powers. The OPG charges £82 per deed for registration.
If it is too late for a Lasting Power of Attorney and a person has lost already capacity, the only option is to apply to court to appoint a ‘deputy’ for them. This means that the person cannot choose who is appointed to act on their behalf, as this decision has to be made by a court.
In addition, the process takes much longer and is much more expensive than making Lasting Powers of Attorney, so making Lasting Powers of Attorney is always the preferred route, where possible.
Rebecca D’Arcy is the owner of Chiltern Wills, a Will writing business based in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
For more information or to discuss making your Lasting Powers of Attorney, please call Rebecca D’Arcy on 07544 091039
Or visit www.chilternwills.com