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Lasting Powers of Attorney – Guidance for families

18 September 2021

Clare Wyett

Power of Attorney Document with Alzheimer's Ribbon

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and Taylor Bracewell Solicitors wish to show their support by helping to raise the awareness of Alzheimer’s and other similar illnesses.

There is no doubt that a loved one being diagnosed with dementia, brings a family into uncertain and worrying times. There is not only the emotional turmoil which such a diagnosis can have, but also the practical impact.

 

What do we mean by the practical impact?

We mean that suddenly becoming responsible for some, or all, of a loved one’s needs can be daunting particularly when there are restrictions and procedures in place meaning that this may not be an easy task.

It is sometimes assumed that if a person is married or in a civil partnership, then their spouse will automatically be able to deal with their bank accounts/pensions etc if the person was to lose the ability to deal with these themselves. This is not the case. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney they would not have authority to do so.

 

What do we mean by mental capacity?

A person living with dementia may not always lose the ability to make their own decisions. Having mental capacity means the ability to make or communicate specific decisions when they need to be made. To have mental capacity a person must understand the decision they make, why the decision needs to be made and the likely outcome of the decision.

If a person is no longer able to make decisions themselves then they are classed as lacking mental capacity and in those circumstances they are likely to need help in all aspects of their daily lives. Not only in assisting them with certain tasks but in some cases taking over their affairs completely.

 

How could a Lasting Power of Attorney help?

It is not always necessary for a Donor to have lost mental capacity for their Attorney to deal with matters on their behalf, it may simply be a case that the Donor would prefer assistance with certain aspects or may not be mobile for example and need support from their Attorney. However, it has to be said that in a case where dementia has been diagnosed and the effect of the person with the condition means they are no longer able to manage making their own decisions, the pre-arrangement of Lasting Powers of Attorney can assist greatly. The effect of such documents mean that a person (the Donor) has made arrangements for someone (their Attorney/s) to manage their affairs if they are not able to do so themselves.

 

What type of decisions could be made?

There are two kinds of Lasting Powers of Attorney:

  1. Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs can be used by an Attorney to deal with the monetary side of life of the Donor. Aspects which can be dealt with by an Attorney such as buying and/or selling a property, paying bills/mortgage, ensuring repairs/maintenance at the Donor’s property are in order and investing money. Indeed, anything relating to the Donor’s finances may need to be dealt with. For an Attorney dealing with such matters on behalf of the Donor, they must ensure that receipts are kept for purchases/repairs etc and that their own monies are kept totally separate from those of the Donor. The Donor may require monies themselves for personal care, clothing, trips, travel expenses etc and the Attorney must use their judgement in making these funds available. An Attorney may take appropriate advice as necessary in dealing with the Donor’s finances for example with investments.

 

  1. Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare can be used by an Attorney to deal with aspects relating to a Donor’s wellbeing and this can only be used when the Donor has lost mental capacity and can no longer make these decisions for themselves. Aspects which may arise could be for decisions to be made about where the Donor may live, the medical care they receive, what they should eat, what activities they may wish to do and perhaps who they should have contact with. An important part of a Health & Welfare LPA covers ‘life saving treatment’, the Donor will have recorded whether they wish their Attorney/s to have special permission to deal with these type of decisions on their behalf.

The different types of Power of Attorney

Here is a short video that Nicola Davison, Probate Executive has created outlining the different types of Power of Attorney and what they are commonly used for:

 

 

If you require any guidance regarding arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney for yourselves or need guidance in respect of a family member then please contact Clare Wyett on 01302 341414