Making your wishes clear in case of incapacity
A recent report from Solicitors for the Elderly has warned that the UK is heading towards an ‘incapacity crisis’ because of a widening gap between the number of people likely to develop dementia and those who have taken steps to prepare for losing mental capacity.
Gail Hall, from Warners Solicitors in Sevenoaks, explains how setting out your preferences for care and medical treatment in a lasting power of attorney can empower and protect your loved ones.
What is a lasting power of attorney?
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a formal legal document which allows people of your choice to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to. There are two types of LPA:
- property and affairs: this covers decisions about your finances and property, like managing investments or selling your house. You can decide when your attorneys can act for you either when you have lost mental capacity or not, and
- health and welfare: this covers decisions about where you live, day-to-day care, and medical treatment but your attorneys can only act if you have lost mental capacity.
Choosing your attorneys
The people you choose to make decisions on your behalf are called your attorneys. You can choose more than one attorney, and they can be your spouse or partner, a family member, a friend, or a professional such as a solicitor. You can appoint them to act jointly or jointly and independently.
Losing capacity with no LPA in place
If you lose capacity and have no property and affairs LPA in place, your loved ones may find it difficult to access your finances. Without authority in an LPA, they will be unable to manage your bank account, pay your bills, or deal with your property. In these circumstances, your family will have to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed, which can be a time consuming and expensive process.
You may think that your next of kin are automatically entitled to make medical decisions on your behalf, but this is not the case. Only doctors acting in your best interests have the authority to make final medical decisions for you if you are unable to, and this can be without your family’s consent. So it is important that you set out your wishes clearly in advance.
When someone loses capacity, it can be a very distressing time for their family and friends. Making sure you have appointed someone to speak for you when you are no longer able to will go some way towards easing the burden on your loved ones at a difficult time.
Warners Solicitors are experienced in advising on all aspects of later life planning and can help you to put in place both types of lasting power of attorney. For further advice, please contact Gail Hall on 01732 770660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.