Most of us have some awareness of Powers of Attorney, but few of us really have a clear picture of what they are, who needs them and when they should be written.
Simply put, Powers of Attorney are you (the Donor) granting powers to people you know and trust (your Attorneys) to manage your affairs when you have lost the mental capacity to do so for yourself, either permanently or temporarily. There are two main kinds, ‘Health and Welfare’ and ‘Property and Financial Affairs’. We’ll dive into the details of how each of these can work in future posts, so watch this space.
Who needs them? In an ideal world, no one would ever need them. But sadly we don’t live in an ideal world and predicting who might lose their mental capacity and when is impossible.
When should you write them? As soon as you can. We often associate Powers of Attorney with the elderly, but sadly life is not always what we expect and sudden illness or accident does happen. Also your property and financial affairs LPA does grant you the power to allow your attorneys to act even when you have not lost mental capacity should you so wish. This can be useful for, for example, business owners who travel frequently and may need someone to manage affairs on their behalf whilst they are away.
Much like car insurance, the cost and time taken to set them up may feel like a nuisance but it’s something you should have in case the worst should happen.
And again like car insurance, if you don’t have your LPAs in place and then need them, it’s too late as power of attorney cannot be granted once you have lost mental capacity. In that situation the Court of Protection would appoint a Deputy to act in your best interests. However, this takes time, money and you have no control over who is appointed to manage your affairs.