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Peace of mind for the future with a Lasting Power of Attorney

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.”


The importance of Lasting Power of Attorney

Appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney is a crucial element of planning for your future.

This means that you can choose a loved one to take care of your properties, finances, health and welfare should a situation arise where you’re no longer able to make decisions for yourself.

The below video from BBC’s The One Show highlights the troubles that can be faced should anything happen to you, without having a Lasting Power of Attorney.

News Insights

Everything you need to know about Digital Assets

What are Digital Assets?

It’s important to remember that there is no current legal definition of a ‘digital asset’ but in principle, when we talk about our digital assets, we mean content that is stored digitally. It’s anything from the personal hardware that we own and the data that is stored upon them, such as computers and smartphones.

The loose definition also covers digital photos, documents, videos, files, spreadsheets – anything else you can store digitally, is an asset.

It’s highly likely that you will have a digital account in relation to finance: your online banking, PayPal and any digital currencies that you hold are all classed as a digital asset.

Why should I include digital assets in my Estate Plan?

It is important to include key digital assets in your estate plan as they could be valuable. We all treasure our family photos and videos as they hold a lot of sentimental value. From a monetary perspective, if we have a balance in our PayPal account for example – this is money that we surely want to hand over upon our passing.

Are there any digital assets that you can’t put into your Will?

There are many digital assets that you may have, but cannot pass them down. Many companies’ digital accounts lease the customer the content, rather than letting us purchase it, therefore you wouldn’t be able to add it to your Estate Plan. A great example of this would be audio content that you have built up over time on iTunes.

Similarly, social media accounts such as Facebook – while belonging to you and you alone – wouldn’t be possible to pass down. You can export your data however, and attain a file of your images.

Making a Digital Estate Plan

The clearest, simplest way to leave instructions in relation to your digital assets is in the form of a written letter.

Not only will you need to state what the asset is and what should be done with it, but you will also need to make a note of how to access the asset if it is password protected.

If you haven’t already, it will pay to get into the habit of keeping your login details in a safe place. There are several online safety deposits you could potentially use, however, if you feel more secure by storing this plan on your own hard drive then you can do that too. When creating a list, it is important to consider who you would like to benefit from the digital assets that you own.

Are you looking for more information about leaving digital assets in your Will? You can get in touch with us for more information, we offer a simple and legal way to make your final wishes clear.