It’s a controversial suggestion and perhaps one that you would immediately be inclined to disagree with. How can a document which gives people control over your assets but gives no beneficial entitlement to them be so important?
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are documents within which you (The Donor) appoint named individuals (Attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf in your lifetime either if you lose capacity or in the case of financial decisions, while you have capacity if you require assistance.
The reality is that all decisions made by an Attorney on your behalf will have a direct impact on you in your lifetime whereas the provisions of your Will will only take effect on your death and you will not be alive to experience the result of its terms. Choices relating to your place of residence, how your money is spent and what care you receive can all potentially be made by your Attorneys. In the knowledge that your lifestyle and future could be directly affected by good or bad decisions that your Attorney(s) make on your behalf you may be starting to think that an LPA is more of a priority than first thought.
LPAs are often associated with old age but in recent years we have seen first-hand how young household names can quickly and unexpectedly find themselves in situations which compromise their capacity. Television presenter Richard Hammond and racing driver Michael Schumacher have both been involved in accidents which have left them for different periods without mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. It is unknown whether either had made LPAs at the time of their accidents.
We describe LPAs to clients as insurance policies that you may never need to use but are in place just in case.
If you are yet to make LPAs we suggest that you start by considering these four questions:
Ultimately both Wills and LPAs are documents that we advise all clients to prepare. Neither is more important than the other as they have different roles and together provide a full complement of lifetime and estate planning. However, we would urge clients to think again before dismissing the need for an LPA as the scope of its potential use is priceless.
At Wolferstans we recognise that once you have appointed Attorneys it is crucial that they have the right knowledge and guidance to act in their important role. Join us on Wednesday 24 July at 15:00 at Plympton library to hear our top tips for Attorneys and Deputies.