Article written by Jeremy Brooks, Private Client Solicitor
A Power of Attorney is a valuable document that allows you to plan for the future when you can no longer make decisions for yourself. In this article, we look at why you should consider getting a Power of Attorney.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a nominated person (an attorney) the authority to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity.
Powers of Attorney have been in existence for nearly four centuries, but this article focuses on the most recent development, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) which were introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Types of LPAs
There are two different types of LPA:
- Property and affairs – this type of LPA allows your attorney to make decisions regarding your finances and property.
- Health and welfare – this enables your attorney to make decisions about your health and care.
I am young, why do I need a Power of Attorney?
When most people think of an LPA, they think of older people. Therefore, if you are young, you might think you don’t need one. However, as we don’t know what lies ahead in life, it is a good idea to have an LPA in place, no matter how old or young you are. Circumstances can arise where you might need an attorney to make decisions on your behalf, such as an accident or illness that affect your mental capacity and ability to make your own decisions.
Who should I choose to be my attorney?
When choosing your attorney, you should consider it carefully. It is important as this person will act on your behalf and make life-impacting decisions. In your selection, you should discuss it with your chosen attorney, ensuring they understand the role they are agreeing to undertake.
Can I select more than one attorney?
It is sensible to appoint more than one attorney so that if one is unable to act, the other can continue. To do this, they should be appointed jointly and severally so that they can work together where necessary or separately. If attorneys are just appointed on a joint basis, they must both agree on every decision and if one becomes unable to act, the LPA is revoked.
It is also a good idea to select replacement attorneys should your chosen attorneys be unable to carry out their role.
What happens if I do not have a Power of Attorney in place?
If you do not have an LPA in place and can no longer make your own decisions, your family or loved ones will have to apply to the court to appoint someone to manage your affairs. This process is expensive and time-consuming, particularly compared to drawing up an LPA – which is relatively simple to do.