Lasting Powers of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney (often called LPAs) are a vital part of everyone’s estate planning. When you make a Will, you are putting your affairs in good order in the event of your death, and part of that process is to choose the people who will oversee matters. Some would say that it is even more important to choose who will make decisions on your behalf and administer your finances during your lifetime if you become unable to do so yourself. That is the vital job which Lasting Powers of Attorney can do for you.
This is why we recommend to all of our clients that they sign both a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs and a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare. These have to be done as two separate LPA’s, but that may be an advantage as the people who will make the best job of looking after financial matters may not be the same as those who you would like to make decisions about where you live and what care and medical treatment you need.
Anyone who signed an Enduring Power of Attorney (often called an EPA) before the end of September 2007 will not need to replace it with a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs this is because Enduring Powers of Attorney continue to be completely valid. However, they should put a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare in place to cover the medical and care issues which may not be delegated before the birth of Lasting Powers of Attorney on 1st October 2007.
As with Wills, it is very important to ensure that EPAs and LPAs are up to date. Over time your choice of attorneys may change for any number of reasons, and that change will only be affected if you sign a new LPA.
Many people associate LPAs with elderly people and think that they themselves are too young to need to put Lasting Powers of Attorney in place. Whilst it may be true that the majority of people whose decisions are being made by their attorneys are living with the degenerative medical conditions of old age, an inability to manage ones financial affairs (permanently or temporarily) or to make one’s own choices can strike people at any age. We believe that young people need LPAs too, in order to ensure that in the event of accidents, illnesses or any breakdown of mental health it will not cause problems to them or their families.
If someone without a Financial LPA or an EPA becomes unable to manage their affairs due to mental health issues then someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection for permission to take on those financial affairs. The process of being appointed someone’s “Deputy” by the Court of Protection is lengthy and expensive. It will often take 6 months or more, and the court fees alone can be several hundred pounds. Even when appointed, the Deputy may have less control of your finances than your attorney (under an EPA of Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial affairs) would have. On top of that the Deputy has to report annually to the Court of Protection and pay fees (out of your funds) for that supervision.
Similarly, those without a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare have no one able to make decisions about their social and medical care until a Deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection. The process is as long (and the fees very similar) as the process of appointing a financial Deputy. In the meantime doctors and social workers have as much say in what care or medical treatment you receive as your spouse, partner or other close relatives.
Why choose us
We believe that nominating attorneys to make decisions about your finances, where you should live, the type of care you should receive, and about your medical treatment in the event that you become incapable of making those decisions yourself, is of the utmost importance.
Deciding who should be your attorneys and finalising the details of your LPAs is not necessarily straightforward. Difficult and sensitive issues are involved in getting things right, and this may require the specialist advice that our Private Client Team can give you.
Please get in touch
Email: LastingPowers@gilbertstephens.co.uk or contact our team.