Why planning ahead for the New Year should begin with a Lasting Power of Attorney

Amidst the many common misconceptions we hear at Hillman Legal Partnerships, the most worrying is the one that starts with “oh it will never happen to me…’ All too often we see people decide against creating a Lasting Power of Attorney when they are writing their Will, even though it is possibly one of the most practical and essential legal documents that exists.

A Lasting Power of Attorney gives you and your family the peace of mind that comes from knowing should you ever lose the mental capacity to perform everyday administrative tasks such as paying bills or making bank transfers tasks, a trusted person can step in and perform them for you on your behalf.

The problem stems from the stigma that still exists around mental health. Many of us simply do not believe that it is something that is ever likely to affect our lives. Yet the truth is that 1 in 4 of us will suffer some sort of mental illness in 2015.

Age is another factor. We tend to associate losing mental capacity with growing old, but the vast majority of people who suffer some sort of mental break down do so during the prime of their lives.

It can be triggered by work relates tress, bereavement or even something as mundane as a traffic accident. Yet when it hits the frightening truth is just how quickly the victim becomes isolated and incapable of performing the things we all take for granted.

The key thing to be aware of is that at this point it is no longer possible for the individual to create a Lasting Power of Attorney, even though this is when they and their family will need it most.

To do so you must demonstrate that you have mental capacity at the time, which is why it is so important to do whilst you are healthy and fit.There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney.

The first, Property and Financial Affairs, allows you to appoint a trusted person or persons (attorneys) to make decisions about your assets and financial affairs if you become mentally incapable of doing it yourself. Common examples include:

  • Claiming state benefits and rebates

  • Paying household expenses

  • Buying, leasing or selling property

  • Opening and closing bank accounts

The second version is known as the Health and Welfare LPA and grants your appointed attorney to make fundamental decisions about your health needs should you become unable to do so yourself.

This includes things like:

  • Deciding where you live

  • Deciding what medical care you receive

  • Making everyday choices such as your clothing and what you eat

  • Deciding where you go on holiday

There is no doubt that thinking about these things is very difficult, and as you can see the choice you are making requires a great deal of trust and confidence in whoever you select as your attorney.

However, the dangers you leave yourself and your family exposed to by not having an LPA, especially if you are the principal breadwinner, need no further explanation.

Start 2015 by making a commitment to yourself and your family to get your Lasting Power of Attorney in place and begin the year with the true peace of mind that can only come from knowing that your affairs are in order.