Power of Attorney-what you need to know
Power of Attorney-what you need to know by Kristina Kennedy-Aguero
Power of Attorney is something that we should all consider setting up. Most people assume that their partner would be able to make decisions about their financial affairs or their healthcare if they were unable to do so. This is not so. Only a person with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) has the authority to make decisions on someone else's behalf.
What types of power of attorney are there?
Ordinary power of attorney is used when you want someone to make decisions regarding your financial affairs for a short period of time. This could be during a hospital stay or a holiday, or if you simply want someone to act on your behalf. They can only do this while you have mental capacity.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) comes into effect if you lose your mental capacity or you no longer want to make your own decisions. There are two types of LPA, one for financial affairs and one for your health and care.
Why would you want to set up an LPA?
Giving someone you trust power of attorney over your affairs ensures that your wishes will be performed even if you are no longer able to express yourself. It gives a person with ailing health or dementia confidence that their best interests will be taken care of.
What does mental capacity mean?
Mental capacity means that you understand what decision you need to make and why, and the probable outcome of your decision.
If a person loses this capacity and has not set up a power of attorney the Court of Protection may be called in to make the required decisions. This could mean that the person's wishes are not followed as the court is unaware of them.
LPA for financial decisions
You can allow your chosen person to make financial decisons on your behalf while you still have your mental mental capacity. Alternatively, you can set it up so that it only comes into effect if/when you lose your mental capacity. An LPA for financial decisions allows your appointed person to buy or sell property, and pay the mortgage. Also to make investments, pay bills, or arrange property repairs on your behalf. You can give them unlimited power or restict what they can take charge of. Your attorney is required to keep accurate accounts of the spending and not mix your money with their own.
Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care decisions
With this kind, your chosen attorney can only make these decisions for you when you have lost your mental capacity. They will be able to decide where you live, what medical care you can receive, and what you eat. They can also decide who you have contact with, and what social activities you participate in. Additionally you can give your attorney a special permission to make decisions about receiving life-saving medical treatments.