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.