Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway recently shared some of the major struggles she has faced because her husband, who has been seriously ill in hospital from Covid-19, doesn’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place. With limited access to bank accounts and policies set up in her husband’s name, these challenges will no doubt resonate with anyone with family members who are unable to make important decisions because of a long-term illness.
Why do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?
If you aren’t able to make important decisions due to an accident, illness or old age you’ll need an LPA in place. This gives the person that you choose (your attorney) the legal authority to make decisions and manage your affairs on your behalf. Without an LPA in place you may have to go through the complex process of applying to the Court of Protection.
What type of Lasting Powers of Attorney do I need?
There are two different types of LPA, Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare. It is advisable to make both but they do act independently of each other. This gives you the flexibility to choose appropriate, and potentially different, attorneys to manage your different affairs. Both types of LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian to enable them to be used.
With both types of LPA it is possible to specifically exclude aspects that you do not wish your attorneys to have authority over. For example, you can remove any authority to make decisions regarding life sustaining treatment.
Powers of attorney for property and finances
A Property and Financial Lasting Power of Attorney gives your chosen attorney authority to make decisions about your property and finances, such as buying or selling your property, accessing and managing your bank accounts or dealing with your tax affairs.
You can choose whether your attorneys can act on your behalf before you lose mental capacity. This can be helpful if you become physically unwell or have to self-isolate.
Making decisions about your health and wellbeing
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney gives your chosen Attorneys authority to deal with multiple aspects of your health and wellbeing including making medical decisions, deciding healthcare treatments and looking after your day-to-day care and living. For this type of LPA your Attorneys can only make decisions on your behalf once you have lost mental capacity.
Can I make a Lasting Power of Attorney in lockdown?
The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of planning ahead should you become ill and unable to manage your affairs. The good news is that you can still make an LPA during lockdown but the process may be a bit different as Government guidelines on social distancing and self-isolating need to be followed. Face to face meetings with your lawyer will be replaced with a phone call or online meeting through platforms such as Zoom. An LPA is a legal document so it must be physically signed and signatures witnessed. Social distancing rules make this more of a challenge but there are ways around it, your lawyer can help you with this.
The pandemic has caused lots of uncertainty for many people. It reinforces the importance of putting plans into place should life take an unexpected turn. Having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, you can rest assured that your Attorneys will be able to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you find yourself unable to.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.