When Should I Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
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With people living longer, planning for later life is becoming more and more important. It is difficult to know what will happen in the future. None of us like to imagine a time where we are unable to look after our own affairs. However, with one in every 6 people over the age of 80 now suffering with some form of dementia, it is important to plan ahead. One way to do this is with a Lasting Power of Attorney
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is one of the best protections to have in place. It will allow the people you trust most to be able to act on your behalf in an entirely legal way.
It is never too early to set up a LPA.
There is a common misconception that LPAs are only to be put in place and used once someone has already lost mental capacity. Many people don’t like the thought of having something in place whilst they are still able to look after themselves. There is a fear that someone might take advantage or overrule their decisions.
However, the truth is that once someone has lost mental capacity, they also lose the ability to make a LPA. Loved ones are then left with the potentially arduous task of applying to the Court of Protection for Deputyship . This in itself is a more laboursome role which requires annual fees and the supervision of the Court.
Someone you trust. It is very important that you have a strong and trusting relationship with the people you want to appoint as your attorney(s), because under an LPA they would have significant authority over your personal affairs. Do not appoint someone who is putting undue pressure on you to appoint them.
Consider multiple attorneys, or a replacement to step in should your original attorney be unable to act any more.
There is no set age for when an LPA should be set up. As long as you and your attorneys are over 18 and have mental capacity, it is never too early to set up an LPA. If you are concerned that you may not have the mental capacity to set up an LPA in the near future, it is better to arrange the LPA sooner rather than later.
Similarly, if you would like your attorneys to start making decisions for you, then it would be better to start the process as early as you can – the registration of LPAs usually takes 4-6 weeks, but can take longer.
Consequently, in the event that you lose capacity and you do not have an LPA in place, it will be necessary for the person who wants to make decisions for you to apply to the court for a Deputyship. This process can be lengthy and particularly costly and may be difficult for your family at a time when their concerns are with your health and well-being.
LPAs can be made and registered many years in advance, and then put to one side until it is needed. It is then able to be used immediately when the need arises to ensure minimal stress and disruption.
There are two types of LPA. One allows your attorneys to make decisions about your property and finances, the other allows them to make decisions about your health and welfare. They each have slightly different rules as to when they can be used. You can choose to set up just one type, or both types. It is always entirely your choice.
Making and registering a LPA in advance does not take away your ability to manage your own affairs. So long as you have mental capacity to make decisions for yourself, you can continue to do so.
You can also revoke the LPA at any time and for any reason (assuming you still have mental capacity).
Whilst you still have the ability to make decisions on your own, then you can revoke the LPAs at any time. So if your circumstances change, or your relationship with an attorney breaks down, you can withdraw the power you have given to them.
Equally, you can appoint more than one Attorney and replacements to act in the event that your first choice is unable to. This means that, once your LPA is in place, you do not have to worry about having to update and create a new LPA and incurring further costs in doing so.