A Power of Attorney is a document whereby an individual, the “Donor”, appoints individuals or professionals to act on their behalf when they are unable to act for themselves, known as the “Attorneys”.
Such inability might arise as a result of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia; but equally if you suffered brain damage as a result of a stroke or a car accident, for example, a Power of Attorney can be invaluable.
In a way it is best to look on it as a form of life assurance: you hope that it will never be needed, but if it is, then it is an invaluable document to have in place!
Before Lasting Powers of Attorney “LPAs” were introduced, an Enduring Power of Attorney “EPA” was the only type of Power of Attorney which could be made. EPAs only deal with financial affairs and cannot deal with health matters.
EPAs were replaced by LPAs in 2007 and, although an EPA is still perfectly valid and effective, it is much narrower in scope than an LPA and you may therefore wish to consider replacing your EPA with an LPA and, perhaps, adding an LPA for health matters.
One of the main differences between EPAs and LPAs, other than the fact that EPAs only deal with finances, is in the registration of the documents.
EPAs have a system of mandatory registration should the Attorneys believe that the Donor has become or is becoming incapable of dealing with their affairs. The LPA, however, is normally registered as soon as it is created (although this is not mandatory) and lays dormant until the time comes that the Donor requires the assistance of their Attorneys, which of course may never happen.
LPAs can only be used once they have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian who govern LPAs but, once registered, the financial document can be used alongside the Donor acting for themselves and therefore does not take away the Donor’s independence, as can be the risk with EPAs.
The LPA for Health and Welfare Matters can only be used if you are unable to communicate your own wishes with regard to your medical and care needs and this could be due to such conditions as Dementia or Alzheimers; or if you were suddenly to be taken ill and have a period of time in hospital, or simply due to old age.
This document will allow your Attorneys to give instructions on your behalf which should be given in the faith that they were instructions that you would have given had you been able. This can include such things as organising for a residential care home and even whether to provide life-sustaining treatment, if this were to become relevant.
The LPA for Property and Financial Affairs, however, can be used when you still have the ability to give your own instructions but you require or want some assistance with dealing with your affairs. This is extremely useful in allowing your Attorneys to assist you in your financial affairs such as paying bills on your behalf, monitoring bank statements, liaising with financial organisations and generally stepping into your shoes if you require them to do so.
As it can be used when you still have the requisite capacity to manage your own affairs, the LPA for Property and Financial Affairs is a much more assistive document as it may be the case that you are physically unable to go to your local bank but that you are mentally absolutely capable of giving instructions to one of your Attorneys to do so on your behalf.
– Charlotte Fox, June 2018
If you or a family member would like to review the Powers of Attorney you already have in place or discuss making new Powers then please contact Charlotte Fox, a solicitor in our Private Client team in Reading and she will gladly assist you. Charlotte can be contacted on [email protected] or 0118 958 9711. You can book an initial fixed fee consultation at our offices in Queens Road, Reading, by completing the form on this website.