No one wants to have to think about a time when they will no longer be able to make decisions about their finances or our health and welfare, but nevertheless it is something that may well happen.  When and if it does, it will be reassuring for everyone involved to know that there are in place provisions to ensure that steps can be taken to manage that person’s financial and health-related affairs in the way that they would have wanted them to be managed.

Making a lasting power of attorney and appointing a person that you trust to make decisions about your property, finances, health or welfare can give family and loved ones peace of mind about your future.  It helps to ensure that important decisions can be made easily, and you and your affairs can be properly looked after.

Power of Attorney Solicitors in Hastings and Hailsham

Janet Sinden & Co can assist you in making that lasting power of attorney by explaining in detail what you can do, helping you choose a suitable person to act as attorney, completing the forms on your behalf and ensuring that everyone that could be affected by them understands how they operate.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A lasting power of attorney (or LPA) is a legal document allowing decisions to be made on your behalf by someone you trust should you lose mental capacity in the future.

There are two types of lasting powers of attorney, each of which requires that you complete a legal form, and you can choose to put in place one or both.  They are:

  • Health and welfare LPA which gives another person the power to make decisions affecting your health and personal welfare such as where you live, your day-to-day care and medical treatments.
  • Property and financial affairs LPA which gives another person the power to manage your finances and assets such as paying bills, collecting benefits and managing investments.

Why Have a Power of Attorney?

If in the future you lose the mental capacity (that is to say the ability) to make your own decisions, then having a LPA in place means that someone whom you trust can deal with your affairs for you. You can only make a lasting power of attorney if you are over 18 and still have mental capacity.

Although your affairs could be managed without an LPA, an application would have to be made to the Court of Protection by someone referred to as a “deputy” allowing the Court to appoint someone to act on your behalf. Not only can this be a very time consuming and expensive process, but it also means that you will have no control over who is chosen to act for you. Drawing up an LPA is therefore a quicker and cheaper process and gives you certainty as to who will look after your affairs.

Once it has been made and registered the Property and Financial Affairs LPA can be used immediately either whilst you still have capacity but, for example, you are out of the country, or following your loss of capacity. The Health and Welfare LPA, however, can only be used when you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.

How to make a Lasting Power of Attorney

Janet Sinden & Co are experienced lasting power of attorney solicitors and can guide you through the process and help you draw up a LPA that reflects your specific wishes. This can include:

  • making sure you understand the various powers that you can give to your attorney(s);
  • helping you create you’re the LPA document(s);
  • helping you choose the right person to be your attorney(s);
  • drafting any specific clauses that are needed to reflect your personal situation;
  • acting as a “certificate provider” in order to certify that you have understood the LPA, that you possess the mental capacity needed to complete it and that you have not been placed under any pressure to complete it;
  • assisting those named as your nominated attorney(s) to complete the relevant paperwork and confirming they are prepared to act for you;
  • registering your lasting power of attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian.  This needs to happen before your attorney(s) can act on your behalf and takes about 10 – 12 weeks.

How Janet Sinden & Co can Help your Attorney(s)

Not only can we help you as the grantor of the LPA, we can also help those who have been appointed as your attorney(s) by:

  • informing them as to what an attorney can and cannot do;
  • warning them of potential issues to be aware of, for example dealing with disputes with friends or relatives over the exercise of the power of attorney;
  • advise them ab out the need to keep good record and how to prepare financial accounts; and
  • where relevant, how to apply for additional powers through the Court of Protection such as the power to make gifts.

Overseas Property and LPAs

Although an LPA will be valid in this country, other countries have different rules and there is no guarantee that your UK LPA will be recognised abroad.  If therefore you have overseas assets, for example a holiday home, then further action may be needed, for example a translation of the LPA into another language or the addition of what is referred to as an ‘apostille’ to confirm its authenticity.

Janet Sinden & Co can, where necessary, liaise with overseas lawyers whilst you still have mental capacity and obtain guidance on the best course of action to best to protect your assets abroad. They may advise that a UK lasting power of attorney is sufficient, or they may suggest that create a corresponding power in the country where your assets are held.

Revoking an LPA

Circumstances change and it may be that you either no longer want an LPA or you want to change the provisions it contains or the people you have appointed to be attorney(s).  If this is the case, then Janet Sinden & Co can provide you with advice on how to achieve this.

Provided that you still have mental capacity, you can revoke your LPAs at any time, for example because you have married and you want to appoint a spouse to be the attorney, or because you want to make specific provisions to reflect other life events.

It is worth noting that Property and Financial Affairs LPAs are automatically revoked if either you or your attorney(s) become bankrupt and if you have named your spouse or civil partner to be one of your attorneys and your marriage or civil partnership comes to an end then the appointment of any spouse or civil partner to be an attorney is automatically revoked.

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