It’s not pleasant to think about a time where you may not be able to make your own life decisions, but as we age, the risk of that happening only increases.
It is therefore important that we prepare for such a time by setting up a lasting power of attorney (LPA), so that someone we know and trust can help us retain some control of our financial and every-day affairs.
Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert says "It’s worth remembering people can lose their faculties very quickly. And when their family are already having to come to terms and deal with that - without a LPA, the only way they can take charge of your finances is via the Court of Protection which people often say is a nightmare".
Moneysavingexpert.com (one of the biggest financial information sites in the UK) also advise that "The LPA is a powerful legal document. You may wish to get a solicitor to help if you’re unsure about the process, the family does not get on or there are complex assets, such as businesses or overseas property".
Here’s a guide to why you should make a lasting power of attorney with our professional LPA service here at Unite Wills.
Before getting into the meaning of a lasting power of attorney, we should first explain what the power of attorney means.
The power of attorney refers to the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of someone else regarding their financial and/or other affairs every-day.
For the power of attorney to be legally granted, a lasting power of attorney (LPA) must be set up.
A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that allows you (the ‘donor’) to grant one or more other people (the ‘attorneys’) the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lack the mental capacity to do so yourself.
A lasting power of attorney must be set up while the donor is still of sound mind in order to be legally valid, otherwise, someone will need to apply to be your ‘deputy’, which can be a far more expensive and time-consuming process.
An LPA allows you to carry on living while maintaining some control over your life through your nominated attorneys, who are legally obliged to act in a way that prioritises your best interests.
They can be either temporary or permanent, depending on your preferences, and there are two main types of lasting power of attorney agreements to choose from:
Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney: This type of LPA gives the attorney(s) the right to handle your (the donor’s) every-day life decisions, including your healthcare, daily routine, and where you live.
Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney: This type of LPA provides attorney(s) with the legal right to make decisions regarding your (the donor’s) finances, including your pensions, savings, taxes, properties, bills, and so on.
In England and Wales, you are able to choose between one or both of these LPAs, so be sure to add which type you would like to submit when you contact or register with Unite Wills.
Attorneys must be over the age of 18, but that is the only requirement and you are pretty much free to choose whoever you like.
Most people opt for:
However, it is crucial that you consider very carefully who you choose as your attorney(s), as the role entails a number of difficult responsibilities and can put them in complicated situations.
Many people choose a professional solicitor as their Property and Financial Affairs LPA attorney, with a friend or family member (or someone else that they trust) as their Health and Welfare LPA attorney.
Some people try to set up their own lasting power of attorney using a DIY LPA form, but there are numerous problems that can arise when doing so due to the legal complexities involved.
Your best option is therefore to make a lasting power of attorney with a professional online LPA provider like ourselves here at Unite Wills. Doing so will ensure that no mistakes are made and that your LPA is legally valid if ever the time comes for it to be put to use.
A will can help you prepare your finances for your eventual death, but it will not help you while you’re still alive, which is why it’s crucial to have both an LPA and a will in place.
Once you have both, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your finances will be protected during your life and in the event of your passing.
Having an LPA comes with a range of benefits, including:
When you set up an LPA, you receive peace of mind in knowing that your finances and wellbeing will be taken care of in a way that prioritises your best interests if ever you’re unable to make your own decisions.
If you don’t have a lasting power of attorney in place, someone will need to apply to become your deputy in order to get any control over your affairs.
Not only is an LPA more affordable than a deputyship order, but it is also far more efficient as it can be initiated as soon as it is set up.
When you have a lasting power of attorney in place, you retain a level of control over your life through your trusted attorneys, even if you lack the mental capacity to do so yourself.
The benefits of making a lasting power of attorney with Unite Wills are vast and include the following:
Read more: Our Lasting Power of Attorney Fees
A legally valid and professional lasting power of attorney provides you with invaluable peace of mind and ensures that your best interests remain a priority, even when you are unable to make your own decisions independently.