Lasting Powers of Attorney - not just for the elderly!

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Article

22 July, 2020

It is never too early to plan for the future, to ease the potential burden on loved ones and to give you and your family peace of mind.

More people have been prompted to make a Will during the Covid-19 pandemic but having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is just as important, if not more important, than making a Will.

What is a lasting power of attorney?

An LPA is a legal document that allows you to choose someone you trust to make decisions for you if you are not able to make them yourself.

When thinking about LPAs, most people believe that they are for the elderly and they are too young to make an LPA. However, severe accidents, a stroke, heart attack or cancer can affect you at any age and could leave you reliant on others to help with crucial decisions.

Every 90 seconds someone is admitted to hospital in the UK with a brain injury, as a result of traffic or contact-sport accidents for example. Thankfully, the majority will experience no lasting effects, however many others will be left with a traumatic brain injury that can have devastating and lifelong effects.

Progressive age-related conditions such as dementia are on the increase. More than 800,000 people in the UK have dementia, and the Alzheimer's Society predicts this will rise to more than one million by 2025 and to double by 2050. One in five people aged over 85 already have the condition. Dementia does not just affect the elderly though - there are currently 40,000 people aged under 65 living with dementia in the UK, not exactly elderly by today's standards.

People living with dementia or serious brain injuries may no longer be able to make certain decisions for themselves or deal with their financial affairs, either temporarily or permanently. Once someone has lost the capacity to make these decisions for themselves, it is already too late to make an LPA. If they have not got an LPA in place, their next of kin will not be able to access bank accounts, pay bills and manage finances without applying to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a Deputy. The process of appointing a Deputy is more complex and time consuming than putting an LPA in place, and it is more expensive - not something you should have to think about when someone you love is seriously ill following an accident or who has been diagnosed with dementia and is losing their mental capacity.

Lasting powers of attorney guidance

There are two types of LPA: one to cover decisions about money matters, known as a property and financial affairs LPA, and one to cover decisions about social care and medical treatment, known as a health and welfare LPA. A key difference is that a property and financial affairs LPA can be used while someone still has capacity, whereas a health and l welfare LPA can only be used once they have lost capacity.

Before choosing who to appoint, it is important that careful consideration is given to who has the right skills, time and willingness to be your attorney. It needs to be someone you trust and have confidence in to make best interest decisions on your behalf.

We always recommend putting an LPA in place sooner rather than later. You can arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney whilst you are young and in full health, long before you are likely to need it and with no intention of needing to use it for many years to come - if at all.. We like to think of an LPA as a type of insurance policy, giving you and your family peace of mind but hopefully never needed.

For more information contact Jane Burbidge in our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts department via email or phone on 01772 220156. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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