People in the UK and worldwide are living longer. Latest statistics show that by 2030 one in six of us will live over the age of 60, with 70 now classed as the new ‘65’ or the start of old age.
As more of us live to a ripe old age, with this does come the increasing risk of us becoming incapacitated for one reason or another, affecting our ability to make our own decisions. This could be because of old age but also because of an unexpected illness or a serious accident.
We cannot be certain about what the future holds for us. In the event of an unexpected occurrence, the consequences on our wellbeing, legal status, and practical affairs can be significant and create hardships for our family members who are left to deal with them. Nevertheless, we can prepare for this by creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in advance to manage our healthcare, welfare, and financial matters.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘Attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident, illness or disorder that leaves you lacking mental or physical capacity.
LPAs cannot take effect until they have been officially registered, which takes 6 to 8 weeks. The Attorney must be over 18 years old, and two or more Attorneys can be appointed to act. They can act together or independently in respect of some matters and independently on others. There are also no provisions for a replacement Attorney to be put in place in the event of the death of the Attorney.
In England and Wales there are two types of LPA:
- Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney
- Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
It is important to note that you can make both types of LPA if you wish, and you can appoint different Attorneys for each one. The LPA is a powerful legal document, and it is crucial to carefully consider who you choose as your attorney and the powers you give them.
- A Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows an Attorney to manage your finances and make decisions about your property on your behalf. For example, paying your bills, managing your bank account, selling your property, making investments, and running your business.
- A Health and Welfare LPA allows an Attorney to make decisions about your health and welfare on your behalf. This could include, deciding where you should live, the medical treatment you receive, what you should eat, what activities you should participate in and end-of–life decisions.
The key differences between the two Lasting Power of Attorney
The type of decisions the Attorney is authorised to make on your behalf is what sets the two LPAs apart.
A Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows the Attorney to only make decisions about your finances and property. They cannot be bankrupt, and you can put in place a Trust Corporation. While a Health and Welfare LPA allows the attorney to only make decisions about your health and welfare.
The point at which the LPA can be used is another difference. A Health and Welfare LPA can only be used if you lose capacity, as opposed to a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, which can be used while you still have mental capacity.
So, ensure to carefully consider your options and choose the right type of LPA for your needs.
What are the advantages of creating a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA can offer several advantages to help protect you and your loved ones including: –
- Ensuring that your wishes are followed
- Avoiding court proceedings
- Peace of mind
- Flexibility within your choices
- Control over your assets
It is essential to assess your options and seek professional advice if you have any questions or concerns.
Why use a solicitor to make your Lasting Power of Attorney?
Legal expertise and customised advice: a solicitor is a legal expert who can guide you through the complex legal process of creating an LPA. They can provide you with specialist advice and ensure that your LPA meets all the legal requirements as well as tailoring to your specific needs.
They can help protect you against fraud and abuse by ensuring that the LPA is executed properly and that the person you choose to act as your Attorney is trustworthy and competent.
Furthermore, using a solicitor reduces the chances of making a mistake that could render your LPA invalid.
Overall, using a solicitor to create your LPA can ensure that your wishes are properly recorded and legally binding, providing you with peace of mind and protection against potential risks. Thomas & Thomas Solicitors, one of the leading law firms in South Wales, provide the only professional Lasting Power of Attorney service in the Maesteg area. For further advice on LPAs, get in touch via the expert team.