If you do not make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and you lose mental capacity, your loved ones must apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This is because no one automatically has the power to manage your affairs – not even your spouse.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
The purpose of an LPA is to give someone – or a group of people – the authority to make decisions on your behalf, should you lose mental capacity in the future. If you get a health and welfare LPA, your Attorneys can make decisions about things such as where you live, who you see and what medical treatment you receive. If you also get a property and financial affairs LPA, your Attorneys can do things like pay your bills, sell your house and collect your pension.
Yet you might be wondering – why bother? You may have a husband, wife or child who is ready and able to take care of you, should you become unwell. This is a comforting thought, but unfortunately it is of little use. This is because no one automatically has the authority to make health and welfare decisions for you. Nor does anyone automatically have the power to manage assets held in your sole name.
This is not widely known. In fact, some people cannot believe it. But please trust us when we say that your loved ones will not have the power to manage your affairs, if you lose mental capacity. Unless, of course, you have made a Lasting Power of Attorney.
What if I don’t make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
The next question you might be wondering is – what if I lose mental capacity and have not made an LPA? Sadly, many families find themselves in this situation every year. Their loved one has become unable to look after themselves, perhaps due to infirmity, illness or injury, but has not made an LPA. As a family they are then in limbo, as they do not have the ability to manage their loved one’s affairs.
If they want to get this authority, someone must apply to become a Deputy. Compared to getting an LPA, applying for a Deputyship Order is by far the less preferable option. Firstly, it is much more expensive. Secondly, the process takes many months to complete. Thirdly, there are far more restrictions placed on Deputies, and you have additional responsibilities to fulfil, such as annual deputy reports.
Finally, anyone can apply for a Deputyship Order. This means that decision-making powers may be given to someone you would not have chosen. By making an LPA, you control exactly who manages your affairs, and how.
Why make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
In short, a Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to prepare for the worst. If you do lose mental capacity in the future, it means the necessary plans are in place. Someone of your choosing can step in straightaway and start managing your affairs. Otherwise, a friend or family member will be forced to apply to the Court of Protection instead. This is a long and expensive exercise, and is less satisfactory in scope than an LPA.