None of us like to think about a possible future where we can’t make decisions for ourselves or live independently.
But none of us can know what life will bring, so it’s really important to be prepared for this possibility. You can do this by setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), where you can give a person you trust the legal right to make decisions on your behalf.
There are two types of LPA:
- Property and Financial Affairs – this gives a trusted person the power to make financial decisions for you.
- Health and Welfare – this gives your attorney the right to make decisions regarding your daily care and medical choices.
Having an LPA in place can bring with it many benefits, such as:
Confidence for the future
You don’t want to spend years worrying about what might happen to your money or your health if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself in later life. But if you set up an LPA, you can have peace of mind about the future, as it gives you a say over who is responsible for making wide-ranging decisions about your money or your care.
Less potential for family conflict
If you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself and don’t have an LPA, different family members may have their own ideas of what should be done for you and who should make these decisions – and that can invite conflict and potentially even legal disputes. But if you lay out your plans beforehand and make your wishes clearly known, there’s no room for any misunderstanding and argument.
Make sure your wishes are carried out
You may have very clear ideas of what steps should be taken with regards to managing your money or healthcare. In that case, there’s no reason why you can’t communicate these to your attorney and provide them with very specific instructions about what you want to happen in certain situations. It’s all about ensuring your preferences are followed.
Avoid costly and expensive legal proceedings
If you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself, and you don’t have an LPA in place, your loved ones might have to go through the courts to apply for the right to manage your affairs. This can be a complex, lengthy, expensive and emotionally draining process, but all this can be avoided if you set up an LPA.
You can choose your attorney
You have the right to pick your own attorney to act on your behalf, such as a family member, a close friend or a trusted professional – a solicitor, for example. That means you have the freedom to select individuals who you are confident will act in your best interests should you ever lose capacity to act for yourself.
LPAs are flexible
An LPA isn’t a document that’s set in stone, as your needs, circumstances and priorities may change over time. For example, one of your attorneys may pass away or fall ill, which means you need to pick someone else to assume this role. You can update your LPA at any time, so you can be certain the document is fit for purpose at all times and works for you if and when it ever needs to be implemented.
We understand that thinking about a future where you lack the capacity to make decisions for yourself is hard, and it’s easy to kick this particular can down the road. But an LPA is a really good insurance policy for the future, giving you the certainty and confidence that difficult decisions have already been taken, and that your future is in safe hands.
It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this article does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Ethical Futures llp is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.