What is Lasting Power of Attorney?

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Thinking and talking about what would happen if our faculties deserted us is uncomfortable. Yet it is important to consider how much worse the situation would be if you had a stroke, serious accident or dementia (eg, Alzheimer’s) without sorting it first.

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If someone has difficulties that mean they cannot make decisions anymore, they will need help managing their finances. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where someone (while they still have mental capacity) nominates a trusted friend or relative to look after their affairs if they lost capacity. The key point to remember …

Do not think you suddenly give up control. You can choose whether it can be used either before, or only when, you lose mental capacity.

Your representative should only ever make a choice for you if you are unable to make that specific decision at the time it needs to be made. For example, if you fall into a coma, your representative will start looking after your affairs. Yet if you wake from the coma, you should be able to make your own decisions again.

Why set up a Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you lose mental capacity, unless you’ve already filled in the Power of Attorney forms, your loved ones will need to apply through court to become ‘deputy’, a long and expensive process.

Instead, you can nominate a trusted friend or relative before you lose capacity, by setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). You can appoint one or more representatives to act for you and can determine how they work together to make decisions on your behalf.

You may be thinking “this doesn’t affect us, we’re perfectly well”. This is a common misunderstanding. The key thing to remember is…

You can only set up a Lasting Power of Attorney when you have mental capacity. Once you have lost capacity, it’s too late.

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