What happens if I don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place?
Many people assume that their family can decide about healthcare and finances on their behalf if and when they are unable to make those decisions themself.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is there to spell out what should happen to you if you become mentally incapable. Not having one in place can cause stress and be problematic for your loved ones when they do not have the legal authority to act on your behalf.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA is a legal document that allows you (the donor) to appoint a person (attorney), to decide important things on your behalf if anything affects your decision-making ability. It gives you more choices and control over your health, care, and finances.
There are two types of LPA:
1. Property and financial affairs
This LPA gives your attorney the power to make financial decisions on your behalf, such as:
- Paying bills or other liabilities
- Buying or selling your house
- Managing your bank accounts, investments, and property
- Receiving your benefits or pension
2. Health and welfare
This LPA covers personal welfare and healthcare matters such as:
- Getting support from social services
- Consenting to or refusing specific forms of healthcare
- Where you live - your home or a care home and finding good care providers
- Every day matters like your daily routine, dressing, or diet
What are the consequences of not having an LPA?
The court can appoint a deputy for you if you have no LPA, but there are several things that could still go wrong, such as:
- You cannot influence the court’s appointment of your deputy.
- A deputy has limited powers even in accessing bank accounts and paying medical bills.
- The court might refuse a deputy’s application and select a council.
- Acquiring and maintaining a deputyship is expensive and time-consuming.
- Selling jointly-owned assets may not be possible without the deputy.
How can I benefit from having an LPA?
- It allows you to make better decisions and choices regarding your assets, property, finances, health, and wellbeing.
- You choose who to nominate, giving you the freedom to pick someone you can trust.
- An LPA helps you avoid high deputyship costs, delays, and stress for you and your family.
- You can choose the type of LPA you think is relevant to you and can pick a different person for each type of LPA.
- An LPA gives you peace of mind, knowing that your affairs will be looked after if your mental capacity declines.
Having an LPA will give you comfort because you know a person of your choice will manage your affairs. If you have challenges creating an LPA, consult a family law professional.