Powers of Attorney – The Easy Route to Peace of Mind

The issue of mental capacity and the devastating impact of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) on sufferers and their families, is never far from the news. This week, the husband of Barbara Windsor spoke movingly about her worsening Alzheimer’s, and how he is facing the reality of no longer being able to care for her at home.

“Mental capacity” is the ability to make decisions for yourself. Most people with dementia will eventually reach a point where they are no longer able to do this. So, what can be done now to prepare?

While you still have mental capacity, you can plan for your future. A document called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which gives a person of your choice the right to make decisions on your behalf, can be drawn up and then put away until needed. Of course, it may never be needed but it is there in case you lose mental capacity in the future.

The key is to give some thought to who you would like to make decisions on your behalf, should the need arise. Such an arrangement can then be given legal footing by way of an LPA. The advantage of this approach is you get to choose who will help you and how. You can have an LPA to cover your property and finances and another that deals with your health and welfare.

An LPA, once prepared, signed and witnessed needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Once this is done, you can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your affairs will be handled in the way and by the people that you have chosen.

Sadly, many people reach a point when it is too late to make an LPA. If you lose mental capacity, and there is no LPA in place, your partner or loved ones will not have the power to manage your welfare and finances on your behalf. Instead, their only option will be to apply to the Court of Protection to seek appointment as your Deputy. It is possible the court will appoint someone that you would not have chosen. In cases, where there are no close family able or willing to act, local authorities may take on the role of Deputy. Sometimes solicitors or other professionals are selected by the Court to act. This whole process is long, complex and costly.

For the best advice on these matters, get in touch with our Private Client team 01227 813400.