Do I need Lasting
Powers of Attorney?
LPAs are a safety net. They are the only way for you to choose someone you trust to be given the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity or if you no longer wish to make decisions for yourself. The unpredictable nature of accidents leading to diminished capacity means it is important to have them in place no matter how old you are.
Two types of LPA are needed to provide full cover, one for property and finance the other for health and welfare. Your property and finance LPA allows the attorney(s) to access all bank accounts immediately, to continue to manage bills and mortgage payments and generally to manage your property and financial affairs. A separate health and welfare LPA enables the attorneys to make health choices for you, from resuscitation to the type of care you receive.
We have joint accounts
If one of the holders of a joint account loses mental capacity, the bank can shut down the account and freeze assets. Even if the joint account isn’t shut down, you still have to be careful about how you spend that money, legally it is not all yours.
I have a next of kin
A next of kin, even a spouse or civil partner, cannot make decisions on your behalf. The only people who can make decisions on your behalf are those who have been formally authorised to do so. You can grant this authority by completing LPAs.
Can I prepare LPAs myself?
Yes, LPAs come in a standard form prescribed by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The forms are available free from the Office of the Public Guardian. However, the fact that they each come with 48 pages of guidance notes is indicative of their complexity.
What happens if I don't have LPAs in place?
If you lose mental capacity and financial or health decisions need to be made on your behalf an application must be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to act for you.
Applications are expensive, the delays run into months and the reporting obligations for the deputy are onerous. In addition the deputy must take out insurance against any financial losses and pay a fee when submitting the annual accounts.