Why Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is important now more than ever?
You may have seen the recent news report of a qualified nurse who was arrested for “kidnapping” her elderly mother from a care home! The nurse was looking to take her elderly mother home to care for her, as her mother has dementia. She had been separated from her mother for “about 8/ 9 months” whilst her 97 years old mother’s health continued to decline. However, sadly, she was arrested for taking her own mother from the care home! You may think, how can this be right?
Unfortunately, her mother did not have the benefit of a Lasting Power of Attorney dealing with health issues. Therefore, she did not have the authority to make decisions on behalf of her mother in respect of her mother’s health and welfare.
This news is a prime example why it is so important for you to ensure you have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, not just to deal with your property and finances but also your health and welfare.
In the current climate, especially with the unprecedented times we are in, it is a crucial time for you to consider what will happen to your finances, and who would look after you if you were suddenly unable to look after yourself.
Some people assume that their family members or loved ones can automatically step in to look after their affairs, or look after them, if for any reason they are not able to so do. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
An even bigger misconception is that some people assume Lasting Powers of Attorney are for elderly people but, again, that is not the case at all!
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to give authority to someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself, or if you no longer wish to do so.
Types of Lasting Power of Attorney
There are two types of Lasting power of Attorney:-
- Property and Finance
This type of Lasting Power of Attorney allows your Attorney(s) to deal with your property and finances. This can include running your bank and savings accounts, making or selling investments, paying your bills, buying and selling your house, and dealing with your tax affairs.
- Health and Welfare
This type of Lasting Power of Attorney allows your Attorney(s) to make health and welfare decisions on your behalf. This can include making decisions about where you should live, what you should eat and wear, your medical care and even who you should come into contact with.
Why make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
There are number of reasons why you may need someone to make decisions on your behalf. Sadly, at any time in your life, your circumstances may change drastically. You may be in an accident or unexpectedly be diagnosed with a medical condition. Alternatively, it could even be a more temporary situation where you are on holiday, and need someone to step in to look after your affairs in your absence. Having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place will ensure the person you trust can make decisions on your behalf, and in your best interest.
A Lasting Power of Attorney document can in fact save you money, time and make sure your loved ones are not put under unnecessary stress.
What if you do not have a Lasting power of Attorney?
If you have not made a Lasting Power of Attorney and later lose the capacity to make your own decisions, then it may be necessary for an application to be made to the Court of Protection for an Order appointing another person as a Deputy to make decisions on your behalf. This can be extremely costly and a time consuming process. It could take up to 6 months for a Deputy to be appointed, and during this time your family members/ loved ones will not be able to access your account to pay bills, manage your affairs or make decisions regarding your health and welfare.
This year has certainly been a difficult year for many people, but having your affairs in order may ensure that you and your loved ones are not faced with unnecessary difficulty in future. Do not wait until it is too late!
If you have thought about making a Lasting Power of Attorney and you are not sure where to start, we have a team at Edwards Duthie Shamash who would be able to point you in the right direction. Rezwana Dithy, and her colleagues in the Wills and Probate department, are happy to answer any questions you may have about making a Lasting Power of Attorney.