Although a large percentage of the UK population still haven’t written a Will most people are aware that it is possible to direct what happens to your estate when you die less people are aware that you can also make provisions to allow someone to deal with your affairs if something happens to you during your lifetime.
Illness, an accident or an age related illness can affect anyone and often without warning. Statistics show that this will happen to 1 in 4 of us and, as a consequence, we will lose the ability to look after our own affairs.
Without a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place your partner or children will be unable to access your accounts or communicate with third parties on your behalf as they will not have the legal authority to do so. This can mean that the simple task of paying a bill can be a struggle and your family may suffer distress and hardship during the lengthy and expensive process of obtaining authority to act from the Court of Protection. Making an LPA now can ease the burden on your loved ones by giving them the authority to act if you are unable to because of mental or physical incapacity.
There are two types of LPA: a Property and Financial Affairs LPA which allows one or more people to make decisions on things such as buying and selling your property, dealing with your bills, and running your bank accounts. A Health and Welfare LPA can nominate someone to make decisions about healthcare, where you should live, and how you should be treated medically. This LPA will also express your wishes about life sustaining treatment which will prevent family members having to make difficult decisions on your behalf without any guidance.
If you do not have an LPA in place and later become mentally incapacitated, an application to the Court of Protection for someone to become your Deputy will have to be made in order to access and take control of your assets and finances. Making an application to the Court of Protection is a far more complicated, costly and stressful process.
There are also on-going costs and duties involved following the granting of a Deputyship Order. An annual supervision fee may be payable to the Court of Protection, and the Deputy will have to take out a security bond to cover their actions as a Deputy. Every year the Deputy also has to provide a Deputyship Report to the Court of Protection. This gives the Court information on decisions that the Deputy has made and also provides summary accounts for the Court to approve.
Making an LPA now will avoid complications in the future if the worst does happen and will leave you with the peace of mind that you have done everything you can to ease the burden on others. You can then get on with enjoying your life with the hope that your Attorney will never have to use it.