LPAs – a lifeline in uncertain times
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that unexpected events can have a serious and lasting impact on our lives. In particular, it has left thousands of people stranded at home and unable to manage their affairs. Yet, just 5% of specialist legal practitioners have seen a marked increase in clients wishing to make an LPA.
What is an LPA?
An LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) is a legal document allowing a person (the donor) to nominate somebody (the attorney) to make decisions, or act on their behalf. While an attorney might step in because you have lost the mental capacity to make your own decisions, an LPA also gives them the authority to act for you on a temporary basis, for example if you’re taken into hospital.
There are two types of LPA:
- Health and Welfare, which allows your attorney to make medical and personal welfare decisions on your behalf; and
- Property and Financial Affairs, which covers decisions relating to your money and property.
Many people believe that their family or friends would automatically be able to take over managing their affairs if they were mentally unable to, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. Without an LPA, the person managing your affairs will be appointed by the courts, and there’s no guarantee it will be somebody you would have chosen.
A lifeline when you need it most
Recent events have demonstrated that we never know what’s around the corner. If you become unwell and are taken into hospital, or you are forced to self-isolate, an LPA could prove a lifeline. It will ensure your chosen attorney is ready and waiting to step in if your situation changes suddenly.
Not just for the older generation
Contrary to popular belief, LPAs aren’t just for the older population. They can be valuable in a wide range of circumstances. Self-isolation means you would lose the ability to deal with personal and financial matters that require your physical presence. So, no matter what your age, having an LPA in place makes it easier to overcome these kinds of problems.
Witnessing an LPA during lockdown
While the need to sign your LPA in the presence of a witness may make things slightly more difficult during lockdown, there are lots of solutions – so there’s no reason not to act now. For example, you could easily meet witnesses under socially distanced conditions, such as in a garden or driveway. If you don’t get the ball rolling now, your LPA might come through too late to make a difference.
Your affairs, your decisions
One common misconception about LPAs is that you are giving away control to your attorney. This is not so. With a Health and Welfare LPA, your attorney can only step in if you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions or are so unwell that you can’t oversee matters relating to your own health and wellbeing. Meanwhile, a Property and Financial Affairs LPA can be used while you still retain the capacity to make your own decisions – but only with your express permission. This means that you’ll retain full authority, but your attorney can physically carry out your wishes if you’re stuck at home.
Talk to us
If you are thinking of registering an LPA, don’t hesitate. Talk to the experts in our Wills, Trusts & Probate team, who can offer specialist advice on the best type of LPA for your circumstances and how to complete the process safely under socially distanced conditions. They will also be able to answer any questions you may have. Just call 0330 221 8855 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.