When should you make lasting powers of attorney (LPAs)?
You may have heard about LPAs. You may have a vague idea that it would be a good idea to make one…..some day. They are a document for tomorrow, surely?
What is an LPA?
An LPA is a legal document that enables you to appoint one or more trusted people (known as attorneys) to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf in the event that you lose mental capacity.
If you want more information on LPAs themselves, you might like to look at our previous article – Why make an LPA?.
When is an LPA needed?
An LPA will be needed whenever you are prevented, through mental incapacity, from making your own decisions. In those circumstances, your attorney can work on your behalf to make decisions in your best interests.
The problem with timing is that it is impossible to tell when the documents are going to be needed. They are often associated with old age – something to make at retirement, or towards the end of your life. However, this is by no means the full picture.
Mental incapacity can strike at any age, and for a variety of reasons. It could be the result of a gradual deterioration because of old age, dementia or Alzheimer’s.
However, it can also be the result of a more sudden life event, such as a stroke, or an accident – something unexpected and life changing.
Or it can result from a physical incapacity, such as cancer or motor neurone disease.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value of being prepared.
What is the process for making an LPA?
The process for making an LPA has two stages. The first stage involves decisions regarding the terms of the document itself, and the gathering of the signatures of everyone involved. The second stage involves the registration of the document with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
This second stage is problematic in this Covid-19 era. The OPG confirmed in May 2021 that their registration process was taking 20 weeks. They have since amended this to 24 weeks.
This means that it can currently take up to six months to register an LPA, and that is only the second part of the process.
The document cannot be used until it has been registered. The very process of making an LPA itself makes clear that forward planning is essential.
How does my life change if I have an LPA?
If you make an LPA, does your day-to-day life change at all?
The short answer is ‘no’. All of the time you have mental capacity, your life is unchanged.
Your attorneys will not have access to your affairs (unless you choose to grant this), and your attorneys will not have authority to take any action without your instructions. You will remain in control.
However, if you have an accident, or your mental capacity reduces for any other reason, your attorney will be able to step in to protect your assets or give instructions relating to your health and welfare as soon as you are not able to give instructions yourself.
This forward planning allows for continuity in your affairs. It ensures that there is someone appointed to act in your best interests, if you are prevented from acting yourself.
In today’s uncertain world, this provides considerable reassurance.
So, when should you make lasting powers of attorney?
If you are considering making an LPA and would like to know more, please contact us on 0118 40 50 131 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.