At any point in our lives we can come across the terminology surrounding a Power of Attorney. It's a legal agreement that effectively signs over a lot of decision making to a third party. If above the age of 18 you can use this entitlement to best effect care over yourself without you making the decisions. Either because you are incapable of doing so or are in need of assistance in forming better opinions.
The majority will never use this and most of those who do need an LPA are making use of one only on a temporary basis. It can be issued to anyone you trust, signed and sealed by relevant notaries. Or for use by multiple people, family members; Wife, Husband, Children, Sister, Brother or indeed a trusted friend. It devolves power over yourself in relation to care and finances, whether short term or for a longer duration when in conjunction with medical conditions such as dementia or loss of mental capacity.
Let's look at these definitions, situations and Power of Attorney types in more detail.
The most basic use of this document would be to allow someone to make a decision on a particular subject on your behalf. It could be related to business procedures, voting powers or buying something on your behalf while you are away. Essentially whatever the nature of the document, it allows someone to make a decision for you and on your behalf, with your permission provided beforehand.
A life changing use would be if an LPA is drawn up by yourself because you are approaching or are in your senior years. A lot of changes occur as we get older and through no fault of our own, we find it difficult to manage on a day today basis, from forgetting to lock the front door to letting a utility bill pile up. A person in this situation may deem it acceptable to sign over, temporarily or long term with a Lasting power of Attorney, the ability for someone to ensure these bills are paid.
It's not just bills. This document can pretty much deal with anything that may arise. In some instance if specifically mentioned, it you become incapacitated after you have made a conscious decision to have over some or many of your affairs. rather than a court issuing further instructions about care, if permission already granted this removes a lot of delays and hassle from the path ahead.
It will not at all hand over control of your health when it comes to medicine and medical decisions unless it is a medical LPA. Until which point the appointed healthcare professional will deem what medicine and care should be provided to you. You may see mentions of 'mental capacity' which can be worrisome, as can the whole situation with regards to choosing a Lasting Power of Attorney, Enduring or Ordinary.
Did You Know: Being married 25 years either as Husband and Wife or in a Civil Partnership does not in any way allow the other half to delve into your bank account or decide on what route your health should be resolved by. You still need a Lasting Power of Attorney.
As suggested above, while there are important but less life changing decisions which you can pass to someone to make on your behalf. Our main objective when defining a Power of Attorney document is with regards to your senior years and or developing an illness. Durations of care and oversight which may be limitless or limited and can be terminated by yourself at any point.
With regards to mental capacity. Stress, dementia, alcoholism, drug abuse and other mental illnesses as long as your arm can interfere in the thought process. What gets us up in the morning, the ability to think clearly and within reason. The ability to remember and to pay bills or buy shopping before you run out. Any of these reasons for getting a Lasting Power of Attorney are judged to be wise.
To be able to proceed with a Power of Attorney application you must have the mental capacity to do so. This may be an emergency measure requested at your own behest. In which case you need to take note that any process could take up to nine weeks. However, at the time of writing, should you lose mental capacity before LPA is registered, this can proceed with the named attorney's submission.
Whether you're in your twenties and diagnosed with a mental illness and need decisions made for you. In your thirties and going in for surgery with long term recuperation or in your seventies and having difficult taking care of yourself. An LPA can serve you will temporarily or for the rest of your life, with authorities close by to keep an eye on adherence and procedures, from health care to where you live.
You and I both know that the film Cocoon is precisely what being a senior citizen is all about. Getting out and about, enjoying life to the fullest and keeping relationships and friendships on the go. We both know we're not suddenly going to get younger tomorrow however. So the rub is that one day we may have to consider an LPA. Better it's arranged with someone we trust in mind, rather than the Government.
Both my Nan and Granddad lived well into their nineties but both ended up in hospital with a disease unable to continue to make decisions with regards their bills and their health care. Do not assume that Children or a Husband or Wife automatically have rights over your decision making should you become incapacitated or mentally unaware. They do not. They will have to apply for that, and at a stressful time probably an unwanted and daunting task.
Once agreed and LPA can resolve a lot of difficulties you have been having. There is no minimum or maximum restrictions on the permissions and authority over yourself that you can sign away. So please do not worry that the following lists are such. There are two main versions of a Lasting Power of Attorney. A Financial LPA and a Healthcare LPA. Let's see which type of permissions can be included within each.
A Financial LPA could include: This is a legal document that comes into force while you are with mental capacity and can be instructed to be only used if you lose mental capacity, as decided by a competent medical professional. Areas covered for are as follows. Decisions with regards paying bills and control of bank account or parts. Decisions with regards buying and selling of property, repairs, upgrades and mortgage oversight. Control of aspects of your assets and ensuring investments are handled correctly and in your interests.
A Healthcare LPA might include: You can sign over any rights to decision making but inherently this POA is used for when you have lost mental capacity. i.e. dementia or difficulties making the correct decision about what to do in the moment. Subjects covered by this particular legal document might be; deciding where you should live at any one time, who you may spend time with ensuring you don't get upset or worn out, which products and meals that you can eat an drink, or which type of activities you may partake in. In regard to life care, also adding clauses deciding on life saving treatment or as the case might be, not to.
It would be quite correct to consider things might go wrong. It's natural. What protections are in place for you should you either need to remove a particular or wish to remove the attorney, add one, change or tear it up? With mental capacity proven you can change details with the Office of the Public Guardian any time you wish. If you are concerned with how the LPA is proceeding after issue and wish to complain, there are several avenues. The NHS Complaints Advocacy, social services, the police if urgent or again, the Office of the Public Guardian.
If you are worried that one person should not be able to control aspects of your life, then don't leave it up to a single person. There are five categories of attorney permitted. 'Singular' and one person, 'jointly' and two people need to decide on your life decisions together, 'jointly and severally' where some decisions are by all or both and other decisions are handled individually. And or 'jointly' and 'jointly and severally' in the same legal document.
If you qualify for certain benefits or are on a low income, there may be no fee for registering the Lasting Power of Attorney document, please check with the Office of the Public Guardian. This office is where you can receive the forms to complete and an information pack to assist in filling it out. While there is a fee for most people, you may also wish to use a solicitor to draw it up, they will charge a fee also.
Request the documents from the Office of the Public Guardian and complete in paper form or online or contact a solicitor. You do not need a solicitor to complete the process. A Doctor, Social Worker or Solicitor will be required to sign it off.