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Lasting Power of Attorney

What is a lasting power of attorney, and why would you need one?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people (called "attorneys") to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. There are two types of LPAs: one for property and financial affairs, and one for health and welfare.

A property and financial affairs LPA enables your attorneys to make decisions about your finances, such as managing your bank accounts, paying bills, collecting benefits, and selling your property. A health and welfare LPA allows your attorneys to make decisions about your care and treatment, including where you live and what medical treatment you receive.

The pros of having an LPA are:

  • It allows you to choose the person or people you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.

  • It can provide peace of mind knowing that your affairs will be taken care of if something happens to you.

  • It can prevent family disputes by clearly outlining your wishes.

  • It can help to avoid delays and additional costs if decisions need to be made and there is no one with the legal authority to make them.

The cons of having an LPA are:

  • It can be a costly process, with a fee to register the LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian.

  • It may be difficult to find someone willing and suitable to be your attorney.

  • It may take time to set up and complete all the necessary paperwork.

  • if you have a complex financial situation or if you have certain legal requirements to your assets, you may have to involve lawyers or other professionals in the process.

It's worth noting that LPA does not take effect until it is registered, and cannot be used until registration. Furthermore, a person may revoke it at any time while they are mentally capable. Also, It's important to consult with a solicitor and/or financial advisor before making any decisions. They can help advise you on what type of LPA is most appropriate for your needs, and guide you through the process of creating one.

Case Study Example

Rachel is a 25-year-old woman who is a college student. She lives alone, and is responsible for her own financial and medical decisions. One day, while she was crossing the street, she was hit by a car and suffered serious injuries. She is in a coma and cannot communicate or make decisions for herself.

Rachel's parents are notified, and they rush to the hospital to be by her side. However, they soon realize that they do not have the legal authority to make decisions on Rachel's behalf, because she did not have a LPA in place. They are told that, as her parents, they do not have the automatic legal right to make decisions for her, and they have to go to court to become her legal guardian, a process that can take several months and be costly.

In the meantime, Rachel's bills and other financial matters are piling up, but her parents are unable to access her bank account or pay her bills because they don't have the legal authority to do so. They also are unable to make decisions about Rachel's care and treatment, such as where she will receive rehabilitation or whether to end her life support.

This is an example of how, even if you're young, it's important to plan for the possibility of an accident or illness that may leave you unable to make decisions for yourself. Having a LPA in place can ensure that your loved ones have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf and can alleviate a lot of stress and uncertainty.

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