An important thing to consider when planning for your future care, is what would happen if you were to lose capacity, and who will make important decisions on your behalf surrounding your care or finances in such an eventuality.

This is done by appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)’.

An LPA is a legal document that enables you to give the authority to someone to make decisions on your behalf, if you were to lose mental capacity (the ability to make the decision) or no longer wish to make such decisions.

Ideally, this responsibility should be given to someone you wholeheartedly trust, but alternatively you can appoint a professional to act in this capacity.

If you were to lose capacity without having an appointed attorney, those close to you would need to seek a court of protection order to assign them as deputy, granting them the ability to make such decisions. This is a process which can not only be expensive, but can take many months rather than days to be granted.

Your ability to implement decisions can be affected both temporarily or permanently.
For example, you may not have the ability on a temporary basis to make decisions surrounding a visit to the hospital for an operation following an accident, but later recover full capacity following successful treatment. More permanent loss of capacity may be following a diagnosis and progression of a degenerative illness such as dementia. It’s paramount that you’re well prepared in the event of either scenario by ensuring you have an LPA in place.

There are two types of LPA’s, one that can cover your health and welfare and another that covers your finances.

An LPA for Health & Welfare can only be used if you no longer have mental capacity to make such decisions yourself and that it’s in your best interests to do so.
Such decisions as; where you live, what medical treatment and care you receive, what you can eat, who you have contact with and what social activities you partake in.
Under the terms of such an agreement, you can also determine whether your attorney is able to make decisions regarding life supporting treatment.

In addition to this, an LPA for Property and Finance can be used while you still have mental capacity, but your physical capacity has become weakened. These can cover all decisions about your finances, including buying/selling property, paying bills such as mortgage or rental payments, care home fees and utilities, as well as monetary investments.

Although this all may seem quite daunting, you can indeed restrict what your Attorney is able to do, your Attorney must always act in your best interests, keep records of what they are doing and keep your finances separate from their own.

You can consult an independent person, such as your solicitor, to be given information about how your finances are being dealt with.
You can allow your Attorney to make decisions, such as those you’d normally make yourself if you were able.

It’s also important to keep your appointed attorney up to date with regard to any changes in your circumstances that affect any preferences you would have if you were to lose capacity.

You can also amend who would act as your attorney should your circumstances change and a previously appointed attorney is no longer able, willing or suitable to act for you in this manner.

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