Dementia Awareness Week begins on the 21st May this year. It is a timely reminder of the issues surrounding our mental wellbeing. In particular; what would happen if you, your friends or family members were unable to make decisions for themselves; either in the short or long term? How can you protect those in vulnerable positions? Many think, incorrectly, that making a Lasting Power of Attorney is for the elderly. However, finding yourself vulnerable to dementia can affect us all at any age.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the 'donor') appoint one or more people (known as 'attorneys') to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of LPA: health & welfare LPA and property & financial affairs LPA.
It is important to think about making an LPA as early as possible in life to ensure that you have the required mental capacity to choose your attorneys carefully to make decisions on your behalf with regard to your property & financial affairs and your health & welfare. If you do not have mental capacity to make an LPA, an application has to be made to the Court of Protection who will make the decision as to who would be the most appropriate person to manage your affairs for you. The disadvantages of this application (to be a Court of Protection Deputy) are the time taken to put the deputyship in place and the cost of the application. You also lose control over who is chosen to be your Deputy and the scope of the authority they will have over your affairs.
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is a little like taking out an insurance policy; you may never need it but it is invaluable to have in place if you do.