A lasting power of attorney is a legal way of appointing someone to make decisions for you if you lack the mental capacity to be able to make them yourself, or if you no longer want to make them for yourself.
For example, you may have an accident and are left in a coma, so a legal power of attorney allows the person you appoint to sort out your finances or make decisions about your health, because you are unable to any longer.
A lasting power of attorney will typically be used in two instances, for decisions about your finances, or about your health.
If you appoint someone to look after your finances, then they can do this if you are still of sound mental capacity, but don’t want to make these decisions any longer. For example, you may be of an age where you don’t want to get involved with banks or other financial institutions and so would prefer it if one of your children, for example, made those decisions for you. So they would be able to handle things to do with your property, whether to sell it or keep it, to pay bills for you, how to invest your money, basically keep running your finances for you as you would have wished them to be run.
When it comes to decisions to your health, a lasting power of attorney will only come into play when you no longer have the mental capacity to make those decisions yourself. In this instance, your attorney will be able to decide on your medication, where you should live, what care you receive etc.
A lasting power of attorney is only valid if it is set up when you are of sound mind, and as long as you weren’t under any pressure to make the document. It may take some time to think about who you want to appoint as your attorney, as you must trust them wholeheartedly, as they could make some significant decisions for you.
There are a few rules that you must ensure are undertaken, such as registering your document with the Office of Public Guardian, for example. There also may be specific wishes that you would like to make, such as certain decisions you would or would not like your attorney to make, so this could be quite a complicated document.
Therefore, it’s advisable to seek legal advice with such an important document as this, a solicitor can help advise you through the pitfalls, and what powers can and can’t be handed over, so that you are completely clear what decisions can be made on your behalf. It’s not a nice thing to have to think about, but an easier decision for your family and friends to have made in case the worst comes to the worst.