This article was published on March 14th, 2011
We are all too aware of the various obstacles and hurdles that life sets in our path; be it through our own experience or that of friends and family members. We often hear of serious accidents or quick deteriorations in health turning lives upside down almost overnight. This can render you unable to make your own decisions by reason of mental incapacity, or unable to easily keep on top of your assets due to physical restrictions.
Thankfully there are practical steps that you can take to prepare yourself, so that should the unthinkable happen your family and loved ones are able to step into your shoes and assist with the management of your affairs. This may be achieved by making a Lasting Power of Attorney.
A Lasting Power of Attorney legally entitles attorney(s) who you appoint to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapable for any reason. You can appoint more than one attorney, and specify whether they are to make decisions together or independently of one another, as well as giving guidance on specific matters.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are able to cover decisions relating to your health and personal welfare as well as property and affairs. This would allow your attorney to make decisions as to where you live, and can allow your attorney to consent to or reject life sustaining treatment.
When making a Lasting Power of Attorney, you may elect for the power to take effect immediately upon registration of the document; this may suit circumstances such as the donor being having difficulties in leaving the house, or being in residential care. Alternatively you may wish for the Lasting Power of Attorney to take effect only in the event of you being declared to be unable to manage your own affairs, which would allow the document to be prepared and registered, and therefore ready to be called upon should circumstances so require.
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney should be part of our planning for the future as much as preparing a Will. In the event that a lasting Power of Attorney has not been created, and you should become unable to manage your own affairs, your family would then have to make an application to the Court for the appointment of a Deputy to manage your affairs for you. This Court application is costly and would serve to cause further stress at an already difficult time, as well as incurring ongoing costs such as annual fees payable to the Deputy, as well as an obligation to submit annual accounts.
In whatever way you consider the concept of a Lasting Power of Attorney, it is worth consulting a Solicitor to discuss what options are available to you, based on your particular circumstances, to ensure peace of mind and the assurance that your affairs will be looked after should anything happen to you.