Common Myths Surrounding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) give an appointed person (or group of people) the power to make decisions on your behalf, should you lose mental capacity in the future. They are a vital tool for later life planning.
Unfortunately, however, there are lots of misconceptions regarding LPAs. This can deter people from making one, as they think they don’t really need an LPA, or they can make one when it’s needed.
To ensure you understand the facts, we’ve debunked some common myths surrounding Lasting Powers of Attorney.
I don’t need one because my spouse and children will take care of me
False. Unless you appoint a person as your Attorney, he/she cannot deal with assets owned in your sole name. Nor can they make health and welfare decisions on your behalf.
No doubt your husband, wife and children will be more than willing to take care of you, should you become unwell. But actually, this is of little use on a practical level. No one – not even your spouse – has the legal authority to manage your affairs.
So, it is dangerous to assume that your loved ones will manage everything, when you can no longer do so. They may be desperate to help. But unless they have been named as an Attorney, they have absolutely no power. If they want to manage your affairs, their only option will be to apply for a Deputy Order from the court. This is a long-winded and expensive process.
I can get an LPA when I need one
False. A Lasting Power of Attorney can only be made while you still have mental capacity. Once a doctor determines that you have lost mental capacity, it is too late to make one.
If you lose mental capacity and you have not made an LPA, your loved ones do not automatically have the authority to manage your affairs. If they want to get this authority, they must apply for a Deputy Order. This process takes months and is a lot more expensive than making an LPA.
Unfortunately, we cannot know what the future holds. Illness, injury and medical treatment can all result in the loss of cognitive function. Sometimes, this happens very suddenly. Making an LPA is a bit like preparing for the worst – it may never be needed, but if you do lose mental capacity, it ensures the necessary measures are in place.
An LPA means I lose control over my life
False. A Lasting Power of Attorney actually increases the amount of control you have, as you can choose exactly who looks after you if you lose mental capacity and how.
There are two types of LPA. A property and financial affairs LPA can take effect whenever you want it to – either now, at a specified date in the future, or when you lose mental capacity. The choice is entirely yours. So, if you make a property and financial affairs LPA, it does not mean that your Attorneys can suddenly sell your home from under your feet. You can stipulate when their legal powers start and what kinds of decisions they can make.
A health and welfare LPA can only come into force if and when you lose mental capacity. Your loss of capacity will be verified by a doctor. If you do lose capacity, an LPA means you have already chosen exactly who should make decisions on your behalf. You can also include instructions and restrictions to ensure your exact wishes are fulfilled. If you don’t make an LPA, the Court will appoint a Deputy instead. This may be someone you would not have chosen.
Putting an LPA in place is a lot of hassle
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is a straightforward process, especially if you use an experienced solicitor.
At Mark Cook Solicitors, we take the time to understand exactly what your wishes are. We then manage the LPA process on your behalf, creating a legal document that aligns with your needs. This means you don’t need to worry about legal jargon or getting to grips with the law – we do it all for you.
Making an LPA is also a lot less complicated than applying for a Deputy Order, which is what your loved ones will have to do, if you lose mental capacity without an LPA in place. In fact, applying for a Deputy Order can take around six months and costs thousands of pounds. Therefore, your loved ones will be grateful that you took the time to create an LPA – it will make their life, and yours, much easier.
LPA solicitors Sunderland
If you would like to find out more about Lasting Powers of Attorney, please call our Sunderland solicitors on 0191 567 7244 and we’ll be happy to help you.