The facts and fiction around lasting powers of attorney need to be clarified, according to Lynette Viney-Passig, Director and Head of Private Client at Swayne Johnson Solicitors.
She explains why we’re putting ourselves at risk by not preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) sooner rather than later and dispels some myths surrounding the topic.
Many of us think a Lasting Power of Attorney is something that should be done for someone else, whose health and mental capacities have started to fail or, if absolutely pushed on the matter, something we might consider for ourselves, a very long way down the line…
So what is actually fact and what’s fiction?
1. Mental incapacity only affects older people if they have Alzheimer’s disease.
Fact: Accident or illness can affect anyone at any age. Not having a contingency plan for this can have significant consequences for ourselves, our businesses and our loved ones.
2. If there’s an accident or illness, my spouse or children will be able to take over the running of my affairs as they are my next of kin.
Fact: Not automatically. They will need to apply to the Court of Protection and this can be a long and expensive process and certainly far more expensive than setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney.
3. An easy way around this issue would be to add my spouse or children to my bank accounts.
Fact: Banks will often freeze an account (even a joint account) if a person does not have the mental capacity to deal with their finances unless legal authority has been granted through a Lasting (or Enduring) Power of Attorney or an order from the Court of Protection.
All adults should have Lasting powers of Attorney but you are even more at risk if you have assets (houses, land, accounts, investments) in your sole name or if you own a business.
The truth is, accident or illness can strike at any time and we need to be prepared. If we are not, it will be left to our family and loved ones to pick up the pieces at what will already be a very distressing and difficult time.
How can I organise Lasting Powers of Attorney?
You can make Lasting Powers of Attorney now – just speak with a qualified legal adviser. They will guide you through the main points:-
• An appropriate appointment of Attorneys (the people who will help you if you ever need them);
• Whether it is appropriate to have different Attorneys for your business;
• Whether it is appropriate to leave your Attorneys with some guidance as to how they should act;
• Complying with the safeguards to protect you from abuse;
• Registering your Lasting Powers of Attorney so that they are ready as and when they may be needed.
If you would like an introduction to a qualified legal adviser or have any other questions about your financial matters, please speak to your Cullen Wealth Consultant.