A Lasting Power of Attorney acts on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This can be because of illness, an accident or any other reason. It allows them to make decision regarding your finances, your healthcare, even where you live.
Although a Lasting Power of Attorney clearly has great control, it will only apply in the situation where you lack the mental capacity to act for yourself. This means you can set one up and, hopefully, never have to use it. If the worst does happen, you will have the peace of mind knowing there is something set up. Whilst it is not easy admitting your health is declining, it is vital that arrangements are in place to look out for your interests.
Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney gives you complete control over the process. You can choose who to appoint, which is better than the Court of Protection choosing someone for you. You can choose more than one attorney, each with different responsibilities, and you can also nominate someone else to take over if your first choice is not able to act. It must be verified that you know what you are signing before you sign, meaning there is little risk of you being coerced into signing one. The Lasting Power of Attorney does not come into effect until it is triggered by you lacking mental capacity, meaning whomever you appoint cannot make decision on your behalf whist you are still capable of making them yourself.
You have the ability when setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney to clearly set out its limitations. However, you must bear in mind that once you set a limitation, it can only be changed if you have the mental capacity to act. Therefore, you should not limit aspects which you might want the Lasting Power of Attorney to cover in the future.
Financial Powers Limited
If you have appointed a Property and Financial Affairs Attorney, they will not have the ability to give away all of your money. All financial gifts are capped and if they wish to make a larger financial gift, they would have to seek a court order. If your Attorney wished to make investments on your behalf using your money, they will haver to seek professional financial advice before they could do so.
Although you may set up a Lasting Power of Attorney, the Court of protection retains the power to revoke a Lasting Power of Attorney and make decision on whether a Lasting Power of Attorney is valid. The Office of the Public Guardian is there to investigate suspicions of Attorney abuse or where it appears an Attorney is not acting in your best interests.
With a Lasting Power of Attorney, once you lack the mental capacity to make decision it can be registered. It is clear who should be doing what and ensures you and your family is looked after as soon as possible. If you do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney, then your family would have to go through the Court of Protection, which can take a long time to put in place and potentially leave your family facing hardship.
Peace of Mind
It is likely you do not intend to die without a will, ensuring all your assets are passed on to those you want them to be passed on to. Equally, you would want, if you are in a position where you are left in a position whereby you are still alive but unable to communicate your wishes, to ensure your interests and those of your family are protected. A Lasting Power of Attorney can help bridge the gap between the moment you become incapacitated and when you pass or hopefully recover.
Considering a Lasting Power of Attorney is an uncomfortable thing to do. It means you must think of a situation where you are not in control, and that can be uncomfortable. But is that worse that ending up in that position and realising you have not set one up?