A Lasting Power of Attorney allows people to nominate one or more attorneys who will make decisions about their property and finances or about their health and personal welfare.
The obvious example of someone who would need an attorney to help with finances (which can be used when the donor still has mental capacity) is an elderly person who may wish their child to be able to go to the bank for them if it’s not easy to get out of the house, or wants to ensure fees will be paid without issue if they need to move to a care home. Similarly, personal welfare LPAs are often made by elderly or terminally ill people who wish to ensure their families can withdraw life-sustaining treatment when their condition deteriorates.
The problem is that it is not always possible to know if an attorney will be needed in the future. A young man may have an accident which puts him in a temporary coma. Although he will recover, the financial implications of his family not being able to pay the mortgage and bills due to not being able to access his bank account could be devastating. In this situation, an LPA would allow the attorney to use the man’s money in the way he would have wanted if he were able to communicate his decisions.
Some people don’t feel comfortable with the idea of relinquishing power to someone else unless they know for sure they will need someone to make decisions in the future. However, a personal welfare LPA cannot grant any powers until the donor loses mental capacity, meaning that there is no risk of the donor not being able to make their own decisions while they can. Similarly, a property and financial affairs LPA can be drafted so as not to come into effect until capacity is lost.
If an LPA is not made before mental capacity is lost, it is too late. Then family would have to go through the time-consuming and very expensive process of applying for Deputy-ship to obtain the same powers which could have easily been granted via LPA if a donor acted in time.
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