Some of you may have heard about Lasting Powers of Attorney. Those of you who have heard about them, probably think they're a really good idea... for your parents!
To put it bluntly, whereas Wills, which take effect when you die, are all about giving your money away, Lasting Powers of Attorney, are the opposite.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are all about looking after you, during your lifetime. They serve you, and are absolutely not about giving your money away. They're about paying your bills with your money, choosing the best medical care for you, and basically making sure you're okay
Lasting Powers of Attorney are particularly valuable if you lose mental capacity, otherwise known as marbles. They're also very useful if you suffer physical incapacity, not being able to move, speak or communicate.
A person can develop dementia, suffer a stroke or be involved in a car accident, with no notice
A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to choose the attorneys that you would want to be involved. If you lose capacity, your attorneys can look after you, both in relation to your Property & Financial affairs, and also your Health & Welfare. But it has to be put in place while you're mentally well.
If you develop dementia and already have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place appointing say your spouse and adult children, those attorneys can get on and manage your affairs.
A less dramatic example, is that a friend of mine left the country leaving her father as an attorney, to finalise the sale of her property. You can choose to use your Property & Financial Lasting Power of Attorney when it suits you
Why are Lasting Powers of Attorney so important? Surely people lose capacity and life goes on. Yes, but it can be incredibly frustrating to try to do the right thing, when the law makes it really difficult. On a practical day to day level, if a husband is responsible for paying certain bills through his bank account, if he loses mental capacity and there is some change to the payments, even a wife can find it difficult if not impossible to access the details she needs.
When there's no Lasting Power of Attorney and someone loses mental capacity, there's a very protective system in place called the Court of Protection.
The Court of Protection is far more expensive than Lasting Powers of Attorney, takes far longer, and a family basically has to seek Court permission for all decisions, from buying toiletries to selling the family home.
A client of mine went through the Court of Protection process in relation to her mother, and she called it "a nightmare." She and her husband went on to put Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, so that their own family will not suffer as they have, if one of them loses capacity
Lasting Powers of Attorney may seem like a belt and braces approach, planning for something that should never happen. But who knows? People, real people, do develop dementia. People do suffer strokes and people are involved in car accidents.
These things can affect any one of us, at any time, with no warning. Would you be prepared?
If you need a chat, call Jane at JC Independent Wills & Probate on 01727 840 240.