Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) do take some forward planning, it can often be unpredictable when you could lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, so to protect your future choices and make sure someone you trust can make decisions on your behalf, it is much less stressful for you and your loved ones if you have an LPA in place before you need one.
In this article we will explore three circumstances where you may require a Lasting Power of Attorney, and how we can help to protect your future decisions.
To begin, what is a Lasting Power of Attorney and how do they work?
An LPA is a document put in place to allow a trusted individual to make decisions on your behalf on a temporary or long-term basis when you have lost the capacity to make those decisions for yourself. This trusted person doesn’t necessarily have to be a family member, it just needs to be someone you trust, known as an attorney. A big misconception on this topic is that often people think a partner or family member can automatically act on their behalf if they are to lose mental capacity however this isn’t the case.
Depending on the type of LPA(s) you have in place, an attorney can act on your behalf to do things like pay your bills (with a property and financial affairs LPA) or make decisions about your care options (with a health and welfare LPA). You can have both types of LPA, and you can choose whether you’d like the same person to be your attorney or to have two separate attorneys, one for each type of LPA.
It is also worth noting that you don’t need to have lost mental capacity in order to have a financial LPA, these can be used in examples where perhaps you are abroad or stuck at home (this was the case a lot during covid when individuals were shielding) for someone to act on your behalf.
If you’d like more information on what to do if you don’t have anyone willing or able to be an attorney, please visit our Deputyship & Court of Protection Applications page here.
Using an LPA when living with dementia
Dementia describes a set of symptoms that over time can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behaviour. As dementia gets worse over time, it’s highly likely that someone diagnosed with dementia will require someone else to make decisions on their behalf at some point and potentially long term when they are lacking the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Putting LPAs in place at the earliest stage possible gives peace of mind to those living with dementia and their loved ones, safe in the knowledge that someone they trust is able to make decisions for them on things like finances and paying bills and making decisions around care and treatment such as surgery.
Using an LPA when suffering long term mental health problems
Mental health illnesses can be long term and can have an ongoing and large impact on an individual’s life. Illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are just a few examples of mental health illnesses which can make it difficult for individuals to carry out everyday tasks.
In some cases, sufferers may require someone to act on their behalf on a long-term basis, however this isn’t always the case as some can experience short term episodes which means they temporarily require someone to act on their behalf during these periods. LPAs can be put in place in the event of specific situations where they may need someone to act for them as well as long term. As well as having peace of mind that someone is taking care of their finances and affairs whilst they’re unwell, they can also rest in the knowledge that they can take back control of these things again once feeling better - which often is the case.
Using an LPA when suffering from a brain injury
In a lot of cases people recover from minor brain injuries fairly quickly, however if suffering from a more complex brain injury, the individual could experience longer term effects meaning they may be required to spend time in a coma, a reduced awareness state or go through a stage called ‘post traumatic amnesia’, having an LPA in place in these events helps the brain injury sufferer and their loved ones to feel safe in the knowledge that someone they trust can make decisions on their behalf.
There are many situations which could lead to a requiring an LPA, in many circumstances like the ones outlined in the above, they can be sudden, unpredictable and not discriminative to age, brain injuries can happen via road traffic accidents, contact sport and strokes, mental health affects individuals of all ages, and early onset Alzheimer’s can in rare cases appear from your 30s, meaning LPAs aren’t just something to be considered later in life, but at any age from 18 upwards to ensure your choices and wishes are protected.
If you need any advice or assistance with Lasting Powers of Attorney then please feel free to contact our Lasting Powers of Attorney Team on 01603 610911 or via email at email@example.com.