Lasting Powers of Attorney – essential at any stage of life
Due to the pandemic many families have found themselves in situations that they never would have anticipated; whether it’s losing a family member to Covid-19 or coping with the long term health effects of contracting the virus.
Many of you will have read the headlines about the situation TV host Kate Garraway finds herself in and may have watched the ‘Finding Derek’ TV documentary. Kate’s 53 year old husband Derek Draper has been hospitalised since March 2020 due to Covid-19. She has had to parent their two children on her own, as a result, and has publically shared the way she has struggled financially as many of their accounts and policies are in her husband’s name.
Kate’s situation could possibly reflect the difficulties many other families are experiencing. Her predicament highlights the need for having a Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place.
“During the pandemic everyone has become aware of the need for a Will but it’s also important to remember that Lasting Power of Attorney are just as important, “advises Lucy Roughley, Legal Adviser for Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers.
An LPA is a crucial document for anyone and comes into effect when mental or physical capacity is lost. People often think of dementia immediately, but the loss of mental capacity can be temporary due to illness such as coronavirus, an accident, unconsciousness or having an operation. An attorney can also deal with things whilst you are on holiday (if you consent too), if you are unwell, if you have had a fall, or even just because you would like some help with aspects of your personal affairs.
“When people hear about an LPA they think that they are only for ‘old’ people or for people that have not got the mental capacity. However, an LPA is suitable for everyone, and at any age. As much as we all hope life will go swimmingly, we do not have a crystal ball and anything can happen to anyone at any time. It is naive of us to believe that we will always be fit and well,” explains Lucy.
There are two types of LPA – one covering Health and Welfare and the other covering Property and Financial Affairs. Zoe Johnson, Legal Adviser for Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers clarifies,
“I am in my 20s and I have an LPA for both Health and Finance, because I have seen first-hand people in their 20's and 30's be in a car accident, develop an illness, get cancer or suffer a mental crisis. In all of these circumstances, if you do not have an LPA for both Finance and Health, no-one (not even your wife/husband or next of kin) can deal with your affairs and you are left in a potentially vulnerable position.”
How long does an LPA last?
Once created, an LPA lasts a lifetime, however it can be reviewed and updated (if you would like to) but once it’s in place you can forget about it. You can be sure that your family has access to your finances rather than risking them fighting court battles in years to come.
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“We often hear people say they will create an LPA when they get older or if their memory starts to deteriorate. However, if your memory has deteriorated, it may be too late make a LPA because you won’t have the mental capacity to make one. If you put if off or leave it too late you cannot make one and your family may be the ones spending thousands on court fees,” adds Lucy.
Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.