Many people believe that losing mental faculties is only something that happens with age, however this is not always the case. People can unfortunately lose the ability to look after their own affairs for several reasons, such as an accident or illness, which can strike at any time or age.
If you were no longer able to look after your own affairs, either financial or health, then no-one is authorised to do so on your behalf without either having been appointed as an attorney by you in a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) (or an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), which were the documents we had before LPAs came into force in 2007), or being appointed by the Court of Protection as a deputy.
Even in long term relationships where people have a combination of joint assets and assets in their individual names, if one person loses (or is in the process of losing) mental faculties, their other half will often not be able to deal with that person`s individual assets without an LPA or Deputyship. This can also include dealing with a sale of the family home where it is held jointly.
If no steps are taken to protect against this it can cause significant issues, hardship and upset, both for the person who may have lost (or be losing) their mental faculties, and their family and what is already a stressful time.
You can protect against this by preparing LPAs.
There are two types of LPAs available:
- Property and Financial Affairs LPA
This allows the person or persons you have appointed as your attorney(s) to deal with your financial affairs on your behalf. This can be either because you would like them to act, or because you may no longer be able to do so yourself. (This is basically the “new” EPA).
This allows your attorneys to make decisions about health matters such as, what medical treatment you have (or don`t have) and welfare decisions, such as where you live. Unlike the Property and Financial Affairs LPA, this LPA can only be used if you have lost mental faculties.
(Please be aware that EPAs do not give attorneys the right to look after health and welfare matters. If you want someone to be able to do this, you need to prepare a Health and Welfare LPA.)
By preparing LPAs, you decide who you want to look after your affairs in the, hopefully unlikely, scenario of you no longer being able to do so yourself. Not only do you make matters easier for yourself, but also for those who need to help you. As with Wills, LPAs provide you with peace of mind.
So, like car and house and contents insurance, LPAs can be viewed as a possibly unnecessary expense – until you need them!