With the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week now having drawn to a close, more people are conscious of the importance of securing their personal affairs in the event of a dementia diagnosis, or in case of losing mental capacity in some other way. If you should lose capacity, no one, not even your husband, wife or a close relative, has any authority to act on your behalf unless appointed under a power of attorney.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows individuals, who you have appointed as your attorneys, to act on your behalf to deal with your Property & Financial Affairs and your Health and Welfare decisions.
It is highly recommended that you have both types of LPA, especially as your attorneys to your Property & Financial Affairs LPA can start supporting you as soon as the LPA is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (the OPG). This can be beneficial if, for example, you are temporarily indisposed or if you just need that little bit of extra help with your affairs when you are beginning to struggle to stay on top of things. A Health and Welfare LPA, on the other hand, cannot be used by your attorneys until you have lost mental capacity entirely, so it is important to have this LPA signed and registered with the OPG well in advance.
In order to convince you of the need to have LPAs in place, here are 5 reasons why we think you should make an LPA:
Protecting your best interests
Ultimately, having LPAs for your Property & Financial and for Health and Welfare is the best way to ensure that your wishes and intentions as to these aspects of your life are carried out, since your attorneys are obliged to act in your best interests. In relation to your health and welfare, for example, you may have specific views surrounding how you would want to be treated and you can authorise your attorneys to communicate these intentions to healthcare professionals.
Peace of mind
By having LPAs in place, you can have peace of mind that your personal affairs will be looked after in the way in which you intend. You can choose who to appoint as your Attorneys and have the assurance that they are regulated under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Not only do LPAs ensure that your personal affairs are taken care of in the event of you having lost mental capacity, but they also provide you with control to appoint the individuals you trust the most to act as your attorneys, to make these all-important decisions around your property, finance and health and welfare decisions. You may, for example, wish to appoint your husband or wife and one or all of your children to act as attorneys for you.
You can also choose reserve attorneys in the vent that your main attorneys can no longer act.
Saving you money in the long term
In the absence of an LPA, if you were to lose mental capacity, your family would have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order to make decisions on your behalf. Your family member applying would have to pay a £371 application fee to the Court of Protection (as the rate currently stands at May 2022), as well as a supervision fee up to £320 every year after they have been appointed as your Deputy. If this is first time that the family member applying is acting as a Deputy, then there will also be further assessment fees for them to pay to the OPG, to assess their suitability to act as a Deputy for you.
These applications can take around four to six months to be processed, which leaves you and your best interests in a vulnerable position in the meantime whilst your family member awaits to be appointed as your Deputy. Joint bank accounts, for example, may not be able to be accessed in this time without a registered LPA or Deputyship Order, potentially leaving the other joint account holder vulnerable to financial hardship during this time. This clearly demonstrates the benefit in investing now to complete and register your LPAs.
Having an LPA registered and ready to go in case you do lose mental capacity in the future not only saves your family from having to go down the Court of Protection Deputyship route, but also avoids conflict within your family, as you will have selected those who you think are most appropriate to act as your attorneys.
LPAs allow you to stipulate exactly how you would like your attorneys to act. We usually recommend that your attorneys should be appointed on a joint and several basis, meaning that your attorneys can make decisions both jointly and separately, which lends itself to avoiding delays in decision-making if one attorney is unavailable. It does however mean that you must be confident that each attorney you appoint will act in your best interests. It is also important that your attorneys as a whole should get along with one another as a disagreement between attorneys might ultimately have to be referred back to the OPG.
How Moore Barlow can help
Our message is to act now and get your affairs in order to cover the hopefully unlikely event that you should lose mental capacity. It could happen to any one of us at any time. Please do get in touch with our Private Wealth team, who can support you in preparing your Lasting Power of Attorney documents and registering these at the Office of the Public Guardian.