Power of attorney
Another important area of later life planning can be the need to draw up a lasting power of attorney. Imagine if you suddenly suffered a serious health condition or began suffering from dementia, how would you look after your affairs? A power of attorney is drawn up in advance and essentially sets out what you would like to happen.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is basically a legal document that lets the donor (the person giving the power) to appoint one or more people (the attorneys) and allowing them the power to make decisions on your behalf should the need arise. Importantly only people over the age of 18 and who have sound mind (or capacity) at the time of setting up are able to establish an LPA. Attorneys are usually close family members that you can trust although you can have professional attorneys appointed.
The LPA is simply a formal document and does not initially convey any powers so it can be set up years in advance and remain unused. Critically, if the need subsequently arises, an application can be made to the Office of Public Guardianship (OPG) to have the powers registered. Only then can the attorneys exercise their powers of decision making.
In England & Wales there are 2 types of powers that may be conveyed, both are described below:
Health and welfare
Essentially this conveys none financial powers and includes:
- Medical care
- Moving into residential care or a care home
- Life sustaining treatment
Property and financial affairs
Essentially this conveys financial powers including:
- Managing bank and building society accounts
- Collecting benefits and income
- Paying bills
- Selling your home
You can choose to set up an LPA in either or both of the areas listed to allow the peace of mind your circumstances take a turn for the worst you will be well looked after by people you trust. There are also safe guards and where you have capacity, they cannot be registered without your permission.
At Financial Fortress we understand the worry associated with deteriorating health and have years of experience helping our clients establish powers of attorney. Your adviser will work with you and your family to put in place robust plans to help you cope with even the most difficult of circumstances. If you feel more comfortable we will work with your legal adviser or recommend a reputable local company to assist further. Remember though, an LPA has to be set up in advance and whilst the donor has capacity to do so!
A further excellent resource can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/overview
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