To many the phrase ‘lasting power of attorney’ may sound like something out of an American TV law show.

However with an ageing population, a lasting power of attorney (LPA) is something more of us need to be aware of.

In a nutshell it is all about appointing somebody to act for you should you become unable to manage your own financial affairs.

While a will ensures your estate is distributed according to your wishes when you die, an LPA protects your assets by authorising somebody chosen by you to deal with your affairs on your behalf while you are alive.

In the event of serious illness or accident, without an LPA the only way that your financial affairs can be managed is by an application (usually by a relative or close friend) to the Court of Protection.

This can take months and cost up to thousands of pounds to process – during which time your finances could be seriously damaged.  In some cases the person authorised to handle your affairs on your behalf may not be the person of your choice and may even be a court official who can charge every time they act for you.

If you have an LPA your chosen representatives can act for you straight away if you become unable to handle your own affairs or if you become mentally incapacitated.

Everyone who makes a Lasting Power of Attorney in respect of property and financial affairs should also make a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare.

For if you care enough about having your property and associated affairs looked after then you ought to care even more about you and your personal welfare. 

These decisions can only be taken on your behalf when you lack the capacity to make them yourself, for example if you are ill, unconscious or because of the onset of a condition such as dementia.

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