Kareem Cole from local solicitors Wiseman Lee takes a look at the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney and planning for life in lockdown, especially for those who are more vulnerable
The unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many people to ensure their wills are up to date should they suddenly become unwell. But who would you want to help manage your finances or make decisions about your personal health or affairs if you were forced back into lockdown or lost capacity?
Most likely, you would want your family or friends to make these decisions for you. A fully registered Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) will allow the people of your choice to assist you should you become unable to leave the house or manage by yourself.
There is no automatic right for your next of kin to act on your behalf.
There are two types of LPA. One covers your property and financial matters (use this LPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about selling your home, collecting benefits or a pension and paying bills, for example), whilst the other covers your health and welfare decisions (use this LPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about your daily routine, medical care, moving into a care home and life-sustaining treatment, for example). You can choose to make one type or both.
Life during lockdown has been very difficult for many, especially those who are more vulnerable or are shielding. Issues people are facing include not being able to go to the shops, the bank, or have family members visit who would usually help.
Having an LPA in place means your attorneys can assist as necessary whilst you have capacity and then fully manage your finances should you lose capacity. They can also arrange medical appointments for you, put in place extra care, assist with paying bills and access cash for general household expenses.
With the possibility of more restrictions being placed on our lives in the future, Lasting Powers of Attorney could prove very useful. Whereas a will is effective from the day it is signed, an LPA is only effective after it has been successfully registered. The registration process can take up to four months.
If you do not have an LPA, your next of kin would need to apply to the Court of Protection to become your Deputy. This is a costly process that can take up to nine months to be resolved.
The importance of ensuring you are properly safeguarded if you were to suddenly lose capacity cannot be underestimated.