What Is A Lasting Power Of Attorney?
Have you ever considered what would happen to your home and savings if you struggled or became physically or mentally incapable of looking after your personal and financial affairs?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document whereby a person (a Donor) can appoint another person (an Attorney) to look after their affairs and make decisions on their behalf should they either struggle or be unable to do so themselves. The circumstances that might crop up include a physical illness such as a stroke or an accident or even maybe Alzheimer’s or dementia.
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Types of Lasting Power of Attorney
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney. One is for property and financial affairs and the second is for health and welfare matters.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs
A Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs enables an Attorney to handle the Donor’s property and financial matters. This could include dealing with physical property such as selling a property, collecting rent, maintaining a property and/or dealing with the Donor’s finances such as bank, building society accounts and investments.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare
A Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare enables an Attorney to deal with the Donor’s health, welfare, social and personal needs. This could include decisions about where the Donor lives, what food they eat, who visits them, their personal appearance and of course health and medical decisions. A Donor can give an Attorney the power to make decisions about life sustaining treatment such as operations or organ transplants or whether to receive chemotherapy or other cancer treatment or surgery.
General Power of Attorney
It is important not to confuse a Lasting Power of Attorney with a General Power of Attorney. A General Power of Attorney is a completely different document that does not cover circumstances where a Donor loses their capacity to make decisions themselves.
General Powers of Attorney are useful in situations where the Donor has full capacity and wants to, say, instruct an Attorney to deal with matters whilst they are out of the country on a business trip for a period of time or just to limit the Attorney’s ability to being able to deal with maybe one or two aspects of the Donor’s financial affairs. A General Power of Attorney becomes invalid once a Donor loses mental capacity. However, with a Lasting Power of Attorney, if the Donor loses their capacity the Lasting Power of Attorney can continue to remain in force and it is here that the Lasting Power of Attorney is of considerably more use and benefit to a person.
Why Are Lasting Power Of Attorneys So Important?
The main reason why a Lasting Power of Attorney can be of value to a person is that if somebody was to lose their mental capacity without having made a Lasting Power of Attorney, then it will almost certainly be necessary for that person’s family to make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy to act on their behalf. This is a very time consuming and very expensive process and there is also no guarantee that the person whom you would want to act as your Deputy would actually be able to act and the court may appoint somebody else to act.
By making a Lasting Power of Attorney, then you can choose who you want to act on your behalf in the event of you ever losing your mental capacity and it also avoids the necessity to make an application to the Court of Protection and therefore you can avoid the considerable delays and costs that could be incurred by having to apply to the Court of Protection if a Lasting Power of Attorney is not in place.