An estimated 750 million people in the UK have dementia and the number is expected to rise steadily. Studies have shown that 2/3rds of people over 55 have made Wills but far fewer have put plans in place for when they cannot make decisions for themselves. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal agreement that authorises family members, friends or professionals to act in our place in case the day arises when we become incapable of acting for ourselves, whether this be due to frailty of old age or the loss of capacity. It may seem complicated and costly but if you fail to make one then your relatives will have a much harder time if you were to lose capacity and will have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your deputy to deal with your affairs. This is a very long drawn out and far costlier procedure. It is therefore wise to sort out in advance who you would like to deal with your affairs.
You can only make an LPA when you have the capacity to make your own decisions. There are two types – one to cover your money called “Property and Financial Affairs” and one covering your “Health and Welfare” which for example allows someone to decide if you are to go into a care home or what medical treatment you are to receive. You can make either or both.
Once drafted the LPA has to be registered before it has any effect and this has to be done whilst the donor (the person granting the power) still had mental capacity. Only once it is registered can the Attorneys act for the donor but usually the registered document will be stored away and only brought out when the donor wants the attorney to act.
An attorney must act in the donor’s best interest and so it is vital that you choose someone you trust completely. Anyone who suspects an attorney is abusing their powers can complain to the Office of the Public Guardian who will investigate further.
It is a fact that people live longer these days and as such more of us will have a period of physical and mental dependency late in life. It is therefore important that we all consider making such a document and put our affairs in order. For more information please contact the Probate Department of Hadaway & Hadaway on 0191 2729065.