Lasting Power of Attorney - we explain what a Lasting Power of Attorney is and why we all should I have one.
Consider this - Over 100,000 people a year in the UK suffer a stroke and 85 percent of the survivors will require post stroke rehabilitation therapy. Should you be affected by a debilitating illness such as a stroke, dementia, or a serious accident your loved ones cannot oversee your treatment or care wishes, talk to your bank or pension provider to access your money even if it is to pay for your ongoing care and treatment.
Unless you have a Power of Attorney in place, loved ones would need to go through the courts, which is often a long and costly process. So why would you not have a POA in place.
What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
There are two areas that can be covered by a lasting POA:
- Health and welfare
- Property and financial affairs
Health and welfare - allows your nominated individual(s) often loved ones or a trusted friend to make decisions over your day-to-day health and medical care, as well as deal with any health professionals and social care staff.
Property and financial affairs - allows your nominated individual(s) to make decisions over your short and long-term finances, access bank accounts, take decisions concerning your assets and deal with pension or income providers.
Appointing someone to manage Property and financial decisions does not mean they will automatically gain control over your Health and welfare and vice versa.
Will I have to give up control immediately?
No, you can decide when your POA can be used normally it is normally at a future after a loss of capacity has occurred and not before.
Your appointed spokesperson should only ever make a choice for you if you are unable to make a specific decision at the time it needs to be made.
As an example, if you to have a stroke and fall into a coma, your spokesperson would begin to look after your affairs. As and when you recover and can make your own decisions again your spokesperson will return control to you.
We always advise clients to discuss their and record their wishes with their spokesperson and include how and when they want decisions to be made.
When can I set up a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Anyone over 18 can setup a Lasting Power of Attorney and you do not need to be unwell to do so, - but you can only establish one when you have mental capacity to do so. Once you have lost mental capacity, it is too late.
What is mental capacity?
Mental capacity is the ability to make decisions for yourself. People who cannot do this are said to ‘lack capacity’. This might be due to injury, a learning disability, mental health problem, stroke, or a condition such as dementia that may affect the way a person’s brain makes decisions.
To have capacity a person must be able to:
- understand the information that is relevant to the decision they want to make
- retain the information long enough to be able to make the decision
- weigh up the information available to make the decision
- communicate their decision by any possible means, including talking, using sign language, or through simple muscle movements such as blinking an eye or squeezing a hand.