1. What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
This is a document which appoints someone of your choice to deal with your affairs if you were no longer mentally capable of doing so yourself. You can have a lasting Power of Attorney which deals with financial matters and also one that deals with health & welfare issues.
2. Who can be appointed as my Attorney or Attorneys?
You can appoint anyone of your choice to be your Attorney provided they are over the age of eighteen, not subject to certain criminal convictions or an undeclared bankrupt. You can appoint more than one Attorney should you so wish.
3. Am I able to change my Attorneys in the future?
If, at any time in the future you decide that you wish to appoint different people as your Attorneys, you can do so. You would simply request that the Court revoke the previous document and you would make a new one appointing the people that you wish. This can be done at any time as long as you have the mental capacity to do so.
4. What is the purpose of a Lasting Power of Attorney?
In the event that you lost your mental capacity to deal with your finances or make decisions about your care and treatment, your appointed Attorneys can take over the decision making on your behalf.
5. Can anyone make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Yes. Provided that you are over the age of eighteen and have the necessary mental capacity to give the instructions and understand the implications of the document.
6. What happens if I lose mental capacity and I do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place?
If you lose mental capacity all of your bank accounts could be frozen and no one would have any authority to pay bills or deal with your day to day finances. Your financial affairs are essentially put ‘on hold’ which could obviously have very serious implications.
If it proved necessary to sell your house, this could not be done as nobody would be able to sign the paperwork on your behalf and the delays in dealing with matters could cause your family real problems. People often think that if they have a joint account it is possible for that to continue even if they have lost mental capacity but that is actually not the case. Many banks and building societies will simply freeze the entire joint account allowing no withdrawals to be made from it. Equally, if you own a house jointly with someone and it needs to be sold the signature of all of the joint owners would be required and therefore the sale could not go ahead.
The only option in that situation is for your next of kin to make an application to the Court for a Deputyship Order which is both costly and time consuming. If you have a Power of Attorney in place, your Attorneys can deal with matters immediately.
If you have a Lasting Power of Attorney for health & welfare matters, you can rest assured that if you are no longer in a position to make decisions for yourself as to your future care and treatment needs your Attorneys will be able to discuss the options available with the relevant professionals and make informed decisions on your behalf. You can also ensure that you make it clear in the Attorney document if you have any preferences about your treatment or care. Your Attorneys will then know exactly what your wishes would be if you were able to deal with the issue yourself.
7. How much does a Lasting Power of Attorney cost?
Hardington Hogg’s fees for preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney and dealing with the registration of it are £450 plus VAT, plus there is a registration fee payable to the Court to register the document. This is a further £82. If you decide that you wish to have both the financial and the health & welfare Attorney done at the same time we would usually charge £700 plus VAT.
Lasting Powers of Attorney were introduced in October 2007. They are designed to ensure that a person’s financial affairs can be dealt with in as seamless a way as possible in the unfortunate situation that the person has lost mental capacity to deal with their affairs themselves.
We will probably be aware of situations where someone has suddenly suffered a life changing illness which overnight has caused them to lose their mental capacity to manage their affairs. This could happen to any of us irrespective of our age. It is something that we would rather not contemplate but is nevertheless, a very real fact of life. We are only too aware of the increase in the numbers of people who are now diagnosed with dementia and this, unfortunately, is a growing medical problem.
If you make a Lasting Power of Attorney you are taking control of who should deal with matters on your behalf in that worst case scenario. For example, it may not always be the case that you would want a close family member to deal with your finances. Whilst many people would prefer to have family members involved, that is not the case with everyone.
You can therefore make the decision now and know that it is the people that you trust who would act on your behalf. You can appoint family members or you may prefer to appoint a trusted friend or professional adviser. In any event, it will be your decision.
You can also appoint substitute Attorneys so that if the person or people that you had originally appointed were unable to act at the time, the alternative appointments would be able to take over. Again, you would have complete control over who those substitute Attorneys should be.
If you do suffer a life changing illness or have a severe accident which impairs your mental ability, it becomes impossible for your financial matters to be managed. Your bank account and other investments would be frozen with no one able to withdraw monies on your behalf. Imagine the situation if you have been running your own business prior to the unfortunate event. This situation could be catastrophic and could easily be avoided. By having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place you are ensuring that you have at least made provision for your affairs to be managed by those you trust.
The cost to you now of making a Lasting Power of Attorney will be far outweighed in the future by the peace of mind that it will give to you and those you love.