Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPAs) are available in two types.
There’s a "Property and Financial Affairs" LPA that allows your loved ones to deal with various financial responsibilities such as: paying your bills, buying and selling your property and managing your bank accounts and investments.
A "Health and Welfare" LPA covers decisions about health and care. These can only be used if someone is not mentally capable.
You can find out more about Powers of Attorney and how we can help you with them.
Over the last 15 years, many myths have arisen about Lasting Powers of Attorneys, which often result in people not having LPAs in place when they are most needed.
In this blog, we'll examine some of these most common myths and uncover the truth behind them.
Myth: Married Couples Do Not Need Lasting Powers of Attorneys
Without an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs, a bank or other financial institution will not allow one spouse to access accounts in the sole name of the other spouse.
Without an LPA for Health and Welfare, a doctor or other medical professional will consult the spouse for hisƒher views, but it will be the medical professional who makes the final decision.
In other words, a Lasting Power of Attorney is vital - even for married couples – to allow spouses to make big decisions on behalf of their husband or wife.
Myth: If All Assets Are In Joint Names, Lasting Powers of Attorneys Are Not Needed
It is up to the discretion of each bank and financial institution whether to allow a joint account to be used when one party is no longer capable.
Suppose a staff member is concerned that a customer is not mentally capable. In that case, the bank can freeze a joint account until presented with an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs, or an Enduring Power of Attorney.
If a property is jointly owned, but the couple does not have LPAs, and one is incapable, a house sale could fall through even after exchange of contracts.
Myth: An Enduring Power of Attorney Is Enough
Lasting Powers of Attorney replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) in October 2007.
When the law changed, all existing EPAs were still legally valid, but no new EPAs could be made.
EPAs will only ever cover decisions about Property and Financial Affairs. They cannot cover Health and Welfare, so medical professionals will make those decisions.
Myth: LPAs Mean That Your Attorneys Will Know What Is In Your Will
Unless you have given specific written authorisation in your LPA for Property and Financial Affairs, your Attorneys are not entitled to see your Will or know what is in it.
Without that authorisation, your Attorneys could sell or donate to charity a treasured possession that you wanted a family member to inherit, leaving the family member with nothing to inherit.
Myth: LPAs don’t need to be made until you are very ill
This is perhaps the most dangerous myth of all. LPAs can only be made if you are mentally capable. When you are not mentally capable, it is too late to make LPAs.
If someone is not mentally capable, an application is made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order, which usually takes 6 to 12 months.
Until that order is received, no one has the authority to make decisions about that person or even access their finances.
To make things worse, the Court will not make a general order covering Health and Welfare matters. Instead, an application to the Court is needed for each individual health or welfare issue that arises.
When should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
LPAs should be made as soon as you have decided who your Attorneys should be, and you have spoken to them to make sure they are happy to take on that responsibility.
It is never too early to start that conversation.
If you would like to make Lasting Powers of Attorney or discuss any other issues arising from this article, please contact our Private Client team using any of the details below.