Lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document where one person (the Donor) gives others (the Attorney/s) legal authority to make certain decisions on their behalf if they become unable to make these decisions themselves. There are many reasons to give someone Lasting Power of Attorney, but many people do so to protect themselves in cases of injury, illness, or impairment. We strongly recommend making a Lasting Power of Attorney no matter how old you are as there is no way to predict incidents that may impair your decision-making ability.
What Happens if I Don’t Have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Many people assume that if they are unable to make decisions themselves, decisions about their finances and welfare can automatically be made by family members but this is not the case. Neither your relatives nor spouse are legally allowed to make decisions for you without an LPA.
If you lose the ability to make your own decisions, and there is no LPA in place, you will need to apply to the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection will decide whether or not you have the mental capacity to make a decision. If the Court rules that you are no longer able to make decisions by yourself, it can make a direct order relating to health and care decisions or property and financial decisions for you. The Court of Protection can also appoint a Deputy to make decisions on your behalf.
What Does a Deputy Do?
A Deputy has a similar role to an Attorney and they must follow the same principles and proceedings to make sure all decisions are made with your best interests in mind. There are two different types of Deputy: A Property and Financial Affairs Deputy and Personal Welfare Deputy. The Court of Protection will usually leave welfare decisions up to a social worker, only appointing a Personal Welfare Deputy under rare circumstances such as when those providing care disagree on what is within your best interests.
Someone who wants to make decisions on your behalf can apply to the Court of Protection to be a Deputy but this may not always align with your interests. For example, you may wish for your spouse to make decisions about your health, welfare, and/or finances but a parent may apply and be appointed Deputy instead. There is no way for the Court of Protection to know whom you would prefer to make decisions on your behalf. Additionally, the process of applying to be a Deputy involves extensive paperwork and the costs associated with this can be significantly higher than those associated with making a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Lasting Power of Attorney ensures that any decisions are being made on your behalf are being made by someone you trust. It also helps to take the pressure off of your family and friends by making the management of your affairs as simple and as straightforward as possible. Don’t put off making a Lasting Power of Attorney until it’s too late, contact us for information and advice and to get the process started today.