Lasting Power of Attorney
At Bluebell we recognise that life is unpredictable and can take an unexpected turn which could result in a temporary or permanent change to the way in which you live your life.
Curve balls can happen at any time affecting your future dreams and plans. We will help you to prepare for the way ahead and to ‘get your ducks in a row’ providing peace of mind should life go off course.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why would I need one?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document that appoints those you trust to fulfil your wishes when you are unable to do so, either on a temporary or permanent basis.
Much confusion surrounds Lasting Powers of Attorney and why you might need them. They are commonly associated with ‘getting older’ or ‘losing capacity’. However, in reality, if you are over the age of 18 and have any individual or shared financial interests (ie property, land or investments), you really ought to consider the benefits of putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.
This can ensure your loved ones are equipped with the necessary legal authority to assist you with all aspects of your day-to-day life and provide support when you most need it. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, contrary to popular belief, their ability to help in this way will be very limited.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
1. Property & Financial Affairs - this protects individual and joint financial interests and allows your Attorney(s) to do things such as pay your bills, manage your investments, operate your bank account or sell your property.
2. Health & Welfare - this allows your Attorney(s) to retain involvement in your medical treatment, diet, where you live and how you spend your time. You can provide instructions and stipulate your wishes which may include authorising your Attorney(s) to make life-sustaining treatment decisions for you, if you so wish.
I have a spouse and a next of kin – is that enough?
No, not if you want them to have the ability to act for you. A common misconception is that a spouse, life partner or appointed next of kin will have the authority to act on your behalf if you lose capacity either temporarily or permanently. It can often come as a surprise to know that they will have no authority unless you have appointed them to act for you. If you have not put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, they will not be able to manage your finances and there is no guarantee that the views of your loved ones will be taken into consideration regarding any health decisions either.
I don’t currently have a Lasting Power of Attorney – what would happen if life takes an unexpected turn?
If capacity is lost either temporarily or permanently, then it is likely that decisions will need to be made about your finances, where you live and the care you receive. In the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney, the Court of Protection will appoint a Deputy who will hold a similar role to that of an Attorney, but the Court may not necessarily appoint someone you would have chosen yourself. The Court may also apply some stipulations to the terms upon which the Deputy can act on your behalf that could contradict your personal wishes or those of your family. The appointment of a Deputy is likely to be a much more expensive, time consuming and restrictive route.
Who can I appoint as my Attorney(s)?
Your Attorney(s) will be responsible for making important decisions on your behalf so it is essential that you have full confidence and trust in the person or persons you appoint. You do not have to appoint the same Attorney(s) for Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare.
You can appoint as many Attorneys as you like provided they are over the age of 18 and have not been made bankrupt. However, as a guide we would suggest you consider a minimum of two and a maximum of four.
Can I give my Attorney(s) specific instructions?
Yes, you can. You must decide whether you want to appoint your Attorney(s) to act on your behalf either jointly (together always) or jointly and severally (together or independently).
Much as this probably sounds complex, the Bluebell team can explain how it is possible to appoint your Attorney(s) to act jointly on occasions and jointly and severally at other times. This will provide a compromise between allowing sufficient flexibility for Attorney(s) to act on their own in relation to day-to-day matters and jointly in relation to more important decisions.
Can Bluebell help me with this?
Absolutely. The Bluebell team can support you with selecting choices that will work for you and your appointed Attorney(s). You can also restrict the decisions that your Attorney(s) can make and, if you provide instructions for your Attorney(s), then they must follow them exactly. We suggest you exercise care when thinking about any instructions you may wish to include for your Attorney(s), as anything complex or unclear may hamper their ability to effectively administer your affairs in the future. This can be particularly important if you decide to proceed with a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare. The Bluebell team take time to explain how this works in practice to help you reach the right decision.
We will prepare the Lasting Powers of Attorney and submit them for you. Lasting Powers of Attorney are lengthy documents and any mistakes made in completing them will often only be found once when they are needed and then it could be too late to rectify them.
How long will this whole process take?
Your Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used by your Attorney(s) once registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and we recommend registering each Lasting Power of Attorney immediately following signature. There is a fixed registration fee payable to the Office of the Public Guardian which accompanies each application.
It is important to be aware that it can take several weeks for the Office of the Public Guardian to register Lasting Powers of Attorney. Your Attorney(s) will not be able to act on your behalf during the application process, so it is sensible to ‘get the wheels in motion’.
How do I get started?
Bluebell recognise that you may simply not know where to begin – you know what you need to do but sometimes these conversations can feel too difficult to even broach.
We are familiar with family dynamics and are happy to coordinate a face-to-face or virtual meeting (via Zoom or Teams) with you and your loved ones. We find this can assist with your decision making and ensure that everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities and has the opportunity to ask any questions. These meetings are very popular and can help everyone to prepare for the way ahead. Bluebell will provide you with complete peace of mind by preparing your Lasting Powers of Attorney and managing the process of registration from start to finish.
* It is important to be aware that terminology and processes differ in other parts of the UK, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland.