None of us knows what the future holds. There might come a day where you can’t find your door key or the entry code to your own home. The home you raised your family in, the home that holds all those treasured memories and nobody is there to help you open that door.
Imagine being shut out of everything you know and everything you had access to, days, hours or even minutes before.
Door locks are an obvious example. But in the years ahead, you might also get shut out of decisions affecting you, your finances or your healthcare. Perhaps it is your partner, spouse or family member who has suddenly and unexpectedly become incapacitated. Banks, credit card providers, and even phone and TV subscription call centres can suddenly refuse to discuss emergency needs if not provided with written permission.
Many of us get married but rarely think about situations where we might need to access each other’s bank accounts if, for some reason, our spouse becomes no longer able to make financial decisions.
We are often led to believe that if suddenly incapacitated, unable to make decisions, our family or friends would automatically be allowed to make decisions on our behalf. However, modern privacy, security, access laws and regulations all tell a different story.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can provide a legally binding solution. We differentiate between two types of LPA, a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs and a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Wellbeing. Both allow you to appoint someone, or several people, under legal authority, to assist you with making decisions or make decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to do so in future because of illness or injury.
At Prosperous Estate Planning, we offer LPAs for property and financial affairs. Without an LPA, nobody can access bank accounts that are in somebody else’s sole name. Why wait until you discover that you can no longer do something you’ve done for years and how this can negatively affect your finances.
Equally, someone else may not be able to manage your finances for you. That person might not be allowed to complete simple tasks like setting up a direct debit or standing order from your bank account, which could be an issue if you entered a care home setting and your care needed to be paid. In rare cases, a local authority could even take control of an incapacitated person’s finances, even to the extent of selling their home to cover care fees.
Justine Clowes, Partner at law firm SAS Daniels, explains: “There can also be issues when dealing with utility companies, or subscription services like Sky or BT if the account is in the name of the incapacitated person.
“Without an LPA in place, no one else can make changes to the account. Similarly, if you have money in investments, they will not be accessible, and no changes can be made without an LPA. This could cause a huge amount of additional stress for a loved one already facing a distressing time.
“It’s a common misconception that LPAs are only for the elderly or for people who have lost capacity. Regardless of a person’s health now, everyone should consider making an LPA to help them prepare for the unexpected.
“They act as a safety net, should circumstances arise where you cannot make decisions for yourself. Even if the change to your capacity is temporary, having a trusted person already appointed to make decisions on your behalf could prevent a whole host of issues further down the line.”
Without an LPA for property and finance, you may still be able to apply to the Court of Protection to become an appointed Deputy, Clowes adds. However, this process may be costly and time-consuming.
If you were to find yourself without an LPA, incapacitated and unable to make decisions, this could have significant financial consequences for your future.
“They are simple to register, and no matter what your age, or health, nobody knows what is around in the corner. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a simple way to give you and your family peace of mind.”