We sat down with our Wills & Probate Team and they explained the difference between Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney and why the LPA is just as important
Q: Are Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) the same thing?
A: No. Wills allow someone (your Executor) to deal with your assets when you have died. LPA’s Allow people to help you manage your affairs whilst you are still alive but can no longer do this yourself usually when you have lost mental capacity.
There are two types of LPA, one for property & finances allowing your attorney(s) to help with practical things such as paying bills, speaking to your bank, or even helping you to selling your home. This can be used by your attorneys when you have lost mental capacity and whilst you still have it (for example if you are house bound). Rest assured though, in the later circumstance they can only assist you if you authorise them to, you are still in control of your finances at this point. The other is for health & welfare which allows your Attorney(s) to make decisions about your care or any treatment you may need but this can only be used once you are unable to make or communicate these decisions for yourself.
Q: Who can I appoint as my Attorney?
A: you can appoint anyone who is over 18 and of sound mind to be your attorney. Always consider your options and that the person will have a lot of responsibility. Your Attorneys need to be someone you can trust to do the right thing by you and act in your best interests. Sometimes clients either do not have such a person or do not want to burden someone with the responsibility. You can also appoint professionals such as solicitors or accountants to act for you but keep in mind that if they need to step in, they will charge a fee.
Q: Why should I make an LPA and when?
A: LPAs are in some respects slightly more important than a Will. They are often associated with the older generation and people who have Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
This should not be the case.
If you own property, have savings, mortgages, and children you should consider these important documents because who will pay or deal with these if you cannot. You can lose your mental capacity at any time of life and by any means, consider a car accident leaving someone with life changing injuries and brain damage, or a stroke or an accident abroad. To be frank the best way to protect your family is by having both a Will and LPAs in place.
Q: Can I make an LPA for my parents if they have lost capacity?
A: This depends on the diagnosis and how advanced any condition is. If someone has an advanced neurological condition that would make it difficult to understand these documents and what they do then it may be too late. But there are alternatives. You can apply to be appointed as a Deputy through the Court of Protection (it is not as scary a process as you may think!)