Frequently Asked Questions about Lasting Power of Attorney
In this post, we have put together some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the topic of a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Nigel himself has provided the answers, from his experience.
- What does a Lasting Power of Attorney do?
A lasting power of attorney is a very powerful legal instrument that allows the donor (the person giving the power) to give the attorney the right to act on their behalf on very important decision making issues.
This may include the payment of bills, access to bank accounts and over very important decisions regarding a persons health and well being such as where they receive care and decisions even as important as a life support machine.
- Is there just the one instrument?
No there are two, they are both equally important.
One is for Property and Financial Affairs and the other is for Health and Welfare. Both are recommended.
- We are married, so I wont need a Lasting Power of Attorney? – as a spouse, will I be allowed to make these decisions?
It is understandable that most people believe this, however it is not true. Should a person no longer be able to make decisions for themselves due to an accident or through declining health, without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place the spouse does not automatically have the right to look after their loved ones affairs.
The Court of Protection takes control by appointing a Deputy, this costs a lot of money and although it is possible for the spouse to apply to the courts for this in order to take over this role this will take time and is very expensive. Having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place avoids this.
- Our bank accounts are in joint names – so I think we will be ok?
Again, unfortunately some banks will still freeze the account until they see evidence of who has control as an Attorney.
- I was always told that a Lasting Power of Attorney was for older people approaching later life?
This was the traditional popular belief, however anyone of us can have an accident or stroke without warning and then it maybe too late to put this legal document in place. It has to completed when someone has the mental capacity to do so. It is so easy to put it off thinking that these things only happen to other people.
- Our property is in joint names – will this be affected?
Consider for a moment a property in joint names. The spouse has an unexpected road accident, the disability means that the home needs to be adapted to help cope with the disability-perhaps a bungalow would be more suitable. Therefore selling the house is the best move forward, this requires both parties to agree to sell, however the spouse who had the accident no longer has the capacity to make these decisions. This is a serious situation, having a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Finance in place overcomes this problem.
- What if they are never needed?
Hopefully this will be the case, you have a choice as to whether to register them straight away or hold them in a secure place and only register them when they may be needed. It is an individual choice- however all of us should have these in place, remember we never know when they may be needed. It is too late to try and have them in place after someone has lost capacity. They cease to be of use and can not be used after someone passes away.
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