Cockroaches and Lasting Powers of Attorney

Appearances can be deceptive

Take the humble cockroach.

It doesn’t look all that.

Average length, 2 inches;

But they can..

Hold their breath for 40 mins

Survive a nuclear explosion

Survive for a week without their head.

So, pretty strong.

Almost as strong as a Lasting Power of Attorney, in fact

Average length 20 pages;

Ability, in the case of you losing capacity, to enable someone you love and trust to;

Manage your bank accounts

Collect benefits/pensions

Continue to run your business

Decide the most appropriate type of care for you to receive

Refuse or consent to medical treatment on your behalf

Why have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Many people take the time to organise their affairs in the event of their death, but do not always make the same provision for issues arising during their lifetime. There’s an assumption that Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are only needed when someone has dementia, so possibly people don’t feel any urgency to set them up as feel they’ll have time later in life if their circumstances change. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Many unforeseeable events such as head injury, car accident, stroke, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, could result in temporary or permanent loss of capacity, as well as the more well known illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. And even things such as dementia don’t progress at the same rate, so no-one really knows if or when they’ll be in the unfortunate situation of needing a Lasting Power of Attorney.

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Unfortunately, I’m aware of several people personally at the moment whose parents didn’t have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, or had ones that were incorrectly set up, before they lost capacity. They’re now suffering unnecessary stress not only trying to look after loved ones, but also battling courts and medical officials over welfare decisions and financial affairs.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney;

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Property and Financial affairs

Use this LPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about money and property for you, for example:

  • managing a bank or building society account
  • paying bills
  • collecting benefits or a pension
  • selling your home
  • enable your business to carry on running
  • liaise with your financial advisors so your investments can continue to be managed

It can be used as soon as it’s registered, with your permission

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Health and Welfare

Use this LPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about things like:

  • your daily routine, for example washing, dressing, eating
  • medical care
  • moving into a care home
  • life-sustaining treatment

It can only be used when you’re unable to make your own decisions.

lasting power of attorney

What happens if you don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place?

If you lose capacity temporarily or permanently, through accident or illness and don’t have Lasting Powers in place, an application will instead have to be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. The process can cost several thousand pounds and take up to 9-12months. During that time your bank accounts may be frozen and even if you’re married and/or have a joint account, your loved ones may not be able to manage your affairs without going through a lengthy, expensive court process, at a time when they’ve already got enough stress and worry in their lives.

The Court of Protection judge will decide who will be appointed to deal with your affairs and that person may not have been the person you would have chosen. This could mean your family or other loved ones have the added stress of dealing with Court officials every time a decision is needed. They may also have no official say in any medical treatment for you, even if they knew what your wishes would be.

No-one likes the thought of possibly losing capacity. But having a Lasting Powers of Attorney in place will save your loved ones an awful lot of stress, time and expense if you ever do lose capacity. 

Who can set up a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Anyone over 18, as long as they have mental capacity. You do not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen.

Who can act as your attorney?

Your attorney needs to be 18 or over. They could be:

  • a relative
  • a friend
  • a professional, for example a solicitor
  • your husband, wife or partner

You must appoint someone who has the mental capacity to make their own decisions and they must not be bankrupt. Your attorney does not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen.

When choosing an attorney, think about:

  • how well they look after their own affairs, for example their finances
  • how well you know them
  • if you trust them to make decisions in your best interests
  • how happy they will be to make decisions for you

I’d also recommend getting expert advice when you set them up. Things such as the number of attorneys you pick and how you allow them to make decisions need to be carefully considered as the consequences of setting the document up incorrectly can cause the Lasting Powers of Attorney to be unworkable or fail just when you need them.

So pick your weapon of choice. Cockroach or Lasting Power of Attorney

If you need any further information or advice on how to go about setting a Lasting Power of Attorney up, drop me a message on the contact form in my Hug Directory listing.

Thank you to Sarah McGuire of Patron Wills for another informative blog around the subject of Will Writing and Estate Planning. Sarah Features in The Hug Directory and you can get in touch with her about Lasting Power of Attorney issues or other estate planning matters HERE.

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