What if ‘what ifs’ come true?

Published: 11/10/2013

With much focus on looking after loved ones once you’ve gone, it’s no wonder that many are totally in the dark when it comes to the topic of Lasting Powers of Attorney. Luckily Linda Cummins, Head of Wills and Probate at Goldsmith Williams, is here to shed some much needed light:

“Unlike a Will which only comes into effect after you have passed away, a Lasting Power of Attorney can play a pivotal role in the protection of both you and your loved ones during your lifetime.

“A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where you appoint an Attorney to look after your affairs if you are unable to do so. This can be for many reasons such as an accident, a disability, the onset of a mental illness like Alzheimer’s or dementia or after suffering a stroke.

“An Attorney appointed under a Property and Financial Affairs LPA is responsible for making any decisions regarding your finances and property and managing any accounts you may have. This could include the sale of property, paying bills and signing cheques, providing finance for dependents, making investments and managing a business.

“Without an LPA no one, including your family, friends and not even your spouse have the automatic right to take over your finances, sign a cheque or pay a bill which could have a direct impact on your loved ones or other dependents such as employees.

“In addition to a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, you can also appoint an Attorney to be in charge of your personal wellbeing. This is known as a Health and Welfare LPA and responsibilities may include making decisions about where you would live, what medical treatment you would receive or refuse, your day-to-day care and who could visit you.

“In the absence of an LPA, the Court of Protection will appoint a Deputy to act on your behalf to manage your affairs. This process takes time and can be very expensive. There is also no guarantee the Court of Protection will appoint the person you would have wanted.

“In our experience many people are often concerned about making an LPA as they think they will not be able to make their own decisions anymore. This is not the case. You can make your LPA conditional so your Attorney can only act if you lose your mental and/or physical capability. This means you remain in control of what happens to your property, your finances and you unless a time comes when you aren’t capable of making such decisions.

“Although a Lasting Power of Attorney may not ever be used, there is no reason to take the risk of suffering the consequences of not having one. Just like house or car insurance, we may never experience a break in or a crash yet we still take out cover just in case. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a form of self insurance, protecting your personal wellbeing and the financial security of your loved ones against those potential what ifs.”

Content correct at time of publication

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