Power of Attorney
If for whatever reason you are left incapable of being able to manage your affairs whether for a short time or permanently, due to an illness or an accident then you might want to consider what you would want to happen and who you would want to manage your affairs for you.
A Power of Attorney is not just for the elderly or those with dementia or a brain injury. A Power of Attorney could be an enormous help to you at these difficult and stressful times.
The role of Attorney is a very powerful one and therefore you should make sure you give great care and consideration to whom you appoint as your Attorney(s). You need to be able to trust them to make decisions that are in your best interests and decisions that you yourself would make. They may also need the appropriate skills to help manage your affairs if your affairs are complicated and important decisions need to be made.
There are various types of Power of Attorney.
Lasting Power of Attorney
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place would mean that those close to you who you would be able to make decisions on your behalf, meaning less stress for them and no interruption to the running of your financial or day to day affairs.
There are two types of LPA. Your Property and Financial Affairs LPA gives your Attorney(s) authority to deal with your property and finances such as your home, banks and other investments.
Your Health and Welfare LPA allows your Attorney(s) to make decisions regarding your day-to-day care and how you live your life on a day to day basis. This can also extend to them on your behalf giving or refusing consent to life-sustaining treatment.
Your LPA needs to be registered before it can be used, and this is usually done at the time that you make one to make sure that it is ready should it be needed.
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney (POA) allows you to appoint someone to manage you financial affairs if you are unable to manage them yourself on a temporary basis. You might be on a long trip and concerned that you would not be contactable for some time. You might be going into hospital for a while and need peace of mind regarding your affairs while you are in there. You might be a business owner and want decisions to be made if you are away to allow for the smooth running of your business. A POA comes to an end if you lose mental capacity so is not suitable in place of an LPA.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
If you gave thought to the management of your affairs in the event of you being unable to make your own decisions before 2007 you may well already have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in place. These can still be used but only in respect of your property and financial affairs. If you want an Attorney to make decisions regarding your health and welfare you will need to make a separate Health and Welfare LPA.
If you lose mental capacity, then your Attorneys will need to register your EPA. An EPA can only be registered once someone is losing/has lost mental capacity. It would not have been registered at the time that it was made. There is a process involved which can take some time so it is important that you Attorneys know that this might have to be done.
Business Lasting Power of Attorney
This is a Lasting Power of Attorney but related solely to your business and your business interests. If you are in business as a sole trader, a general partnership, a limited liability partnership or a registered company it is just as important to consider making a Business Lasting Power of Attorney. It would allow you, if the worst were to happen, to be retired from the company, partnership, or business and, your attorney could sell your interest, before things become difficult.
If you have not made either an EPA or LPA and you lose mental capacity, then if important decisions need to be made regarding your property and finances an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order to appoint a Deputy to make decisions on your behalf. This is a far more complex, instrusive and expensive procedure than making an LPA while you still have the capacity to do so.