A recent Law Society blog by the Society’s Private Client Section member Jane Cassell focused on why everyone should make arrangements to put lasting power of attorney in place.

Lasting power of attorney (LPA) can cover two areas—property and financial affairs, and health and welfare. For the former, an attorney can pay someone’s bills, make sure any investments are doing as well as they can, and dealing with anything that relates to the person’s property.

A health and welfare appointed attorney makes decisions on someone’s personal welfare. This might relate to what a person eats, wears, who visits and who doesn’t (Ms Cassells says this is important in some families) and decisions relating to life-sustaining treatments.

LPA experience

In the blog, Ms Cassells discusses her own experience as an LPA when her father suffered a fall which caused swelling on his brain. This meant he required intensive hospital care and rehabilitation, as he needed to learn to walk, talk and function once more.

Until that point, she points out, she had no idea how quickly life can change, and which is why as a lawyer who specialises in wills, LPAs and probate services, she promotes how important the LPA role is, and having it in place.

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A lasting power to attorney needs to be established before you need them, like a will but they have the opposite effect in that the will is about giving your financial assets away because you don’t need them anymore. An LPA, on the other hand, is only relevant in your lifetime. While people tend to think of them as being most relevant if someone develops dementia, they are helpful in other cases such as if someone suffers a stroke or is in a car accident.

Everyone should ‘consider an LPA’

Ms Cassells recommends adults of all ages consider LPAs—at the same time as they write their will. It means someone of your choice can be appointed to look after your best interests. An LPA lasts beyond a person’s mental capacity, so that it continues even when that person cannot communicate or make decisions.

In her blog, she writes: “And remember, you can’t wait until something goes wrong, and then ask to have them in place.  It doesn’t work like that.  Just as creating a will after you die is not possible, creating lasting powers of attorney after the accident, stroke or other debilitating event, is not possible.  You really do have to act before you need them.”