Planning for the future… It’s something we do so often – from buying your first house, to career moves and promotion, from starting a family to starting retirement – these are all usual milestones. So what about planning for a time when we are unable to make decisions for ourselves?
If you start to lose the ability to make decisions for yourself because of illness, disease or accident then other people will need to make decisions for you. Decisions about your finances, your health and your welfare, and day to day life. Would your loved ones know your wishes and would they be able to act on your behalf?
There is a common misconception that our “next of kin” has the authority to act on our behalf in relation to making decisions regarding our finances and welfare should we lose capacity to do so. This is wrong! In reality your “next of kin” will not have any legal rights unless you appointed them as your attorney before you lost capacity. If this is not already in place, your next of kin will have to make an application to court in order to be legally recognised to have these powers.
This is a timely and costly process, which might not include what your wishes might have been. It might not even appoint the person or people you would wish to act for you.
When you settle Lasting Powers of Attorney documents, you are able to specify particular restrictions in relation to your care and financial affairs, putting safeguards in place aligned to your wishes. You are also able to provide authority for more than one person to act for you, ensuring that the responsibility of considering your best interests and acting accordingly does not fall to one person alone. Such considerations and restrictions will provide guidance to attorneys, but also assist in ensuring that your wishes are taken into account.
Whilst it is vital to formally provide authority and instructions for a family member or friend to act on your behalf via LPA documents, it is equally as important that you discuss your wishes with your attorneys too. For many people, this is a conversation that they may find difficult or uncomfortable to address, however, it is only with your guidance and understanding of your wishes that your attorneys will be able to act truly in your best interests.
It is not possible to consider and document every eventuality within your LPA documents, therefore your selection of attorneys is of the upmost importance. It is imperative that you select attorneys who you trust, who know and understand your preferences and who you are confident will act in your best interests, putting these at the forefront of all decisions. They are people who would know what you would want to happen in certain situations.
Having an LPA is the only true way to ensure that you will know your representatives are looking out for you and acting properly on your behalf in the way you would have done if you could so.
If you would like to discuss putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place and ensuring your wishes are clear to all involved, then please contact a member of the Wills, Trusts and Probate team on 0161 615 5554 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can offer appointments at our Altrincham offices or a location to suit you. In the longer term preparing this documents now will give you peace of mind and peace of mind to those around you.