You might be familiar with Lasting Powers of Attorney (also called LPAs) – perhaps your parents have them already...writes Janet Walker, Legal Intermediary at True Bearing. It’s tempting to put them to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list – surely you don’t need them yet? Aren’t they something to think about when you are much older?
LPAs appoint your choice of Attorneys to act on your behalf should you lose the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. They are a cornerstone of Legacy Planning at True Bearing – because they are about looking after you and your assets whilst you are still alive so that you can pass on that family legacy. LPAs must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian whilst you still have mental capacity - so it can, unfortunately, become too late to get them in place.
We advise clients to obtain both Health & Welfare and Property & Finance LPAs, as they cover different aspects of life. Even if you have been married for decades, if your spouse needs medical attention but they have lost capacity, you may well not be consulted about their treatment – or the continuation of that treatment - unless you have a Health & Welfare LPA in place.
It might be the case that you have used a joint bank account for everyday expenses for many years. If one of the co-signatories loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves the bank may freeze the account, which could leave you with significant financial difficulties.
Leading causes of loss of capacity include gradual conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. However, a significant number of cases are caused by illness and accidents -catastrophes that can strike at any age.
In the time that I have been helping clients with their Legacy Planning, it is very noticeable that the clients who decide from the very beginning of the process to include LPAs in their plans are those who have seen loved ones suffer from a lack of capacity.
In particular, they are very aware of how difficult things can be for the loved ones who have to try to access and manage finances without an LPA in place. Emotionally, it can be very difficult to cope with the mental decline of a spouse or family member, and that situation is compounded by being excluded from the medical decisions being taken without consulting the family.
It was for those reasons that my client Louise asked me to prepare LPAs for her. Her husband had not got them in place before he had a stroke at 62, which left him without mental capacity. Luckily, she did have access to some savings in her sole name but found it distressing to have her views about his care not given the respect she thought was appropriate.
We can help you with putting LPAs in place for you and your family.
If you would like to speak to one of our Legal Intermediaries about Lasting Powers of Attorney or any other aspect of estate planning then please call 01257 260011. The FCA does not regulate wills, trusts or legacy planning