A Lasting Power of Attorney gives the right to make decisions, perhaps to a friend or relative, about almost any aspect of your property or financial affairs or in matters of your personal welfare.
What would happen if you lost your mental capacity?
Strokes, Alzheimer’s, dementia are more common than ever as we live longer than our parents and Grandparents.
Most people believe their loved ones will have control if anything were to happen- Next of Kin.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Does a next of kin have legal rights and responsibilities?
No. The term next of kin is in common use but a next of kin has no legal powers, rights or responsibilities. In particular, they cannot give consent for providing or withholding any treatment or care.
Is the next of kin the same as having power of attorney?
No. Getting power of attorney is a legal process whereby someone can be appointed to act on the patient’s behalf to make decisions about their care and/or finances. Decisions about providing or withholding treatment or care are usually made by the patient. If the patient is no longer able to do this for themselves treatment and care decisions are legally left in the hands of the relevant professional (doctor, nurse, social worker) acting in the patient’s best interests, unless someone has been given power of attorney for welfare matters.
Health and welfare LPAs
People in England and Wales can make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for health and welfare so that, if there is a time when they aren’t able to make decisions about their care and treatment, an appointed person – an attorney – will be able to do this for them.
An LPA needs to be created while the person is still able to make this decision, so planning ahead is important. They can also appoint more than one attorney.
Having a LPA in place for financial matters allows the LPA to access bank accounts, pay bills and manage your finances and affairs when you are not in the position to do so yourself.
Without an LPA
If there is no LPA for health and welfare, professionals such as doctors and social workers will generally make decisions about a person’s care if they cannot do this themselves.
If there is no LPA for financial matters in place accessing bank accounts, accessing funds and even paying simple bills could become difficult. A family member would need to apply to the court of protection in order to access the funds and carry out these tasks which could be an expensive and lengthy process.
You can see how important these documents are, sadly many find out only to late that they need them.
It should be part of responsible planning particularly if you fear that you may not be able in the future to make decisions, perhaps due to a progressive illness.
If you have elderly people who rely on you for help, then a Lasting Power of Attorney is needed to protect both them and you. If this document is arranged now, it can save so many difficulties for your family but unfortunately most people leave it until it is too late.
These are complex documents and errors can have unintended consequences.
They may look like simple forms to complete but don’t be tempted until you are certain you know all the facts.
Contact us to arrange a FREE no obligation consultation before you consider doing anything.