What Happens If I Don’t Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
If you do not make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and you lose mental capacity, your loved ones will have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This is because no one has the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf, not even your spouse. Instead, someone must obtain this authority from the court.
Why make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Increasing numbers of people in the UK are developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. These conditions affect a person’s ‘mental capacity’, meaning they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Mental capacity can also be affected in other ways, such as through injury or medication.
No one knows what the future will hold – you may lose mental capacity in the years to come, or you may not. That is why it is better to err on the side of caution and make a Lasting Power of Attorney, just in case the worst should happen.
An LPA allows you to nominate a person or group of people to act as your Attorneys. If you do ever lose mental capacity, your chosen Attorneys have the legal authority to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf.
There are two types of LPA – you can have one or both in place at the same time. One type of LPA deals with property and financial affairs, while the other deals with health and welfare matters.
Why happens if I don’t make an LPA?
This may surprise you, but without an LPA, your loved ones do not have the authority to manage your finances or make welfare decisions for you. Not even your spouse. The exception is where assets are owned jointly, and the joint owner is still alive. For instance, if you own a property with your spouse and he/she is still alive.
Otherwise, it does not matter what wishes you have expressed during your lifetime – unless you have made a Lasting Power of Attorney, your nearest and dearest cannot step in to the breach. This is because they do not have the legal authority to do so. The law works in this way to protect vulnerable people from abuse.
Court of Protection
If you do lose mental capacity and you have not created an LPA, your loved ones will have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. Only once this has been approved can they start acting on your behalf.
Getting a Deputyship Order is a long and expensive process. Being a deputy also comes with additional duties that Attorneys do not have to fulfil. For instance, deputies must complete an annual report showing what decisions they have made and why. They must also pay an annual fee.
To avoid these complications, it is strongly recommended that you make a Lasting Power of Attorney while you can. This prevents your loved ones from having to go through the deputyship application, saving them considerable time, stress and expense.
It also ensures that if you do become unwell in the future, your Attorney can step in straightaway. Also, you select your own Attorneys, giving you complete control over who manages your affairs. Otherwise the Court of Protection may nominate a deputy you would not ordinarily have chosen.
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.