If you become unable to make decisions for yourself in the future, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which empowers an individual or people you select to carry out affairs on your behalf.
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By choosing a Lasting Power of Attorney you are taking control over your future health and finances by appointing someone to act in your interests if you cannot make your own decisions (known as lacking mental capacity). This can happen as a result of an accident or illness.
Those who you entrust will become your legally appointed attorney or attorneys and will be able to use these documents to act on your behalf, should they need to.
Typically, there are two main types of LPAs: Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare. You can opt to have one or both.
Health and Welfare LPAs come in to play once you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Property and Financial Affairs LPAs are put in place to accommodate your money and property whilst you still have full mental and operational capacity.
The choice is yours but logically it would be someone you can trust, so that you can ensure your estate will be properly taken care of. This could be a family member, a close friend or associate or even a solicitor. The number of attorneys you choose is also up to you. However, having two attorneys is the recommended route. For instance, one being your spouse or partner and the other one of your offspring, should anything happen to one of them.
LPAs last a lifetime, protecting you and your estate until you pass away and then your Will dictates the rest. Setting up and registering your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian can take up to and beyond 10 weeks, so leave yourself plenty of time to organise it.
Married or cohabiting couples are not automatically pledged to legally deal with one another’s affairs. This includes access to bank accounts, pension providers, credit card companies or utility companies.
Releasing equity to spend now may mean you are not able to rely on your property for money for later in to your retirement.
Entrusting a person with power of attorney over your health and welfare does not automatically give them president over financial affairs and vice versa.
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