Since October 2007 you have been able to create two types of Lasting Power of Attorney – one that covers your property and financial affairs and another that covers your health and welfare. If you created an Enduring Power of Attorney prior to October 2007, it will still be valid, but if you don’t have anything in place you should consider creating Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Unfortunately none of us know what the future holds therefore it is best to ensure that your wishes are fully understood and carried out by people you trust. The people entrusted to carry out your wishes (your ‘Attorneys’) can be your spouse or your children or anyone close to you that knows you well. Even if you are fit and healthy now, it is best to have something in place and registered with the Office of Public Guardian as soon as possible. You can revoke your Powers of Attorney if you wish to at a later date, so long as you have the mental capacity to make the decision to do so.
Whilst you still have mental capacity, you retain complete control over your finances and life, in the same way as if you had not signed a Lasting Power of Attorney. However, if you have an accident or require some assistance whilst you are in hospital, for example, your attorneys can assist you and carry out any instructions you give them. You can then take over full control when you are fit and healthy again.
With a Lasting Power of Attorney in place your chosen attorneys will be able to manage your bank accounts and investments, resolve any banking problems, carry on your business, issues cheques and pay your bills all the time you are unable to. They have to act in your best interests at all times and assist you in making your own decisions as far as possible.
What happens if you don’t have an Enduring Power of Attorney or Lasting Powers of Attorney? If you lose mental capacity (through an accident or illness for example) and are no longer capable of making your own decisions, then someone can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy. If the court is happy with the chosen Deputy, they will grant the authority for that person to access your affairs in a similar way to an attorney. However going through this process tends to be more lengthy and costly and there is no guarantee that the person who applies to assist you is the person you would have chosen for yourself.
Why not call Jeremy Tucker or Kathryn Loveland at Dutton Gregory for some initial advice on the role that Lasting Powers of Attorney play in our future life planning? We have offices in Bournemouth and Poole and would be delighted to hear from you. Call Bournemouth on 01202 315005 or Poole on 01202 466669.
Alternatively take a look at our website – www.duttongregory.co.uk