Lasting Power of Attorney – what is it and when do you need it?

It’s National Love Your Children Day on Saturday 7th April, which is a good time to reflect on how important our family is to us. In many legal scenarios, we often consider our nearest and dearest when it comes to protecting ourselves – and our children’s future. Lasting Power of Attorney is something that is difficult to consider, but, when it comes to allowing someone you trust, like your children, to take over your family affairs, it is an extremely important document.

What is Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you were involved in an accident and became seriously injured, either mentally or physically, a Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows someone you know and trust to continue managing your finances and to make important decisions about your health, if you were unable to make these decisions. This can also apply if you become elderly and are no longer able, either physically or mentally, to manage any financial affairs.

It is important to consider what would happen and how you would continue to pay your bills, or even your rent or mortgage perhaps, should you be unable to do so. However, there are a few things to consider first.

What would happen to my money?

Firstly, your bank accounts would be frozen. This is to ensure that any concerns are assessed, particularly if there are questions raised about the state of a person’s mental health. During that time, you or your spouse would not be able to access the funds to continue paying your monthly outgoings – so if you have any regular financial commitments you might want to consider how freezing accounts may affect you, and put steps in place to rearrange payments.

What happens without a Power of Attorney?

Without this document, you can be more vulnerable. The document aims to control who has the power over your financial assets. Without it, there is a danger of abuse and the risk that your financial wishes are not adhered to. Your family would need to make an application to the Court of Protection in order to take control on your finances, or to make decisions about your health, which is both costly and time consuming.

What’s more, you might find that any decision made by your family is overruled. A doctor would make all decisions concerning your health and although the doctor may consult with the family, they can override any wishes. Having a Power of Attorney in place ensures that your family have the final say in your health and welfare decisions.

What do I need to do?

The number of enquiries relating to Lasting Power of Attorney has increased in recent years, as longer life expectancies mean there is a higher chance of people losing the ability to manage their financial affairs during their lifetime.

With National Love Your Children Day coming up, perhaps now is the best time to start planning and the best way to do that is to get in touch with a solicitor. Our experts at Downs Solicitors have been working with families for decades to help them plan for the future. Contact us with any questions you may have and let us see how we can help you.