Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
Other than a Will, the LPA (property) is singularly the most important document that every adult ought to have. Without it, if incapacity strikes you down, your family will have to deal with the Court of Protection; a body that has been called evil by many people for how their decisions destroy families all under the guise of the Mental Health Act. The expense alone of dealing with the Court of Protection makes the cost of setting up a LPA positively miniscule in comparison.
Via an LPA (property) people can nominate someone they trust to make decisions for them; about their property and financial affairs, and with an LPA (personal welfare) even medical and health matters, at a time in the future when they might not have the capacity to make them for themselves. For example, due to the onset of dementia, a stroke, accident or simply old age.
But to make such an arrangement the donor needs to have the capacity to understand now, as later may be too late, forcing family to make an expensive and complicated application to the Court of Protection. However the donor may include a restriction that the LPA (property) can only be used at a time in the future when they lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. The LPA (personal) can only be used once the donor has lost capacity.
But in some cases it may be easier for them to give someone the power of a LPA (property) now, to carry out tasks such as paying their bills or collecting their benefits or other income. This might be useful for lots of reasons i.e. the Donor might find it difficult to get about, or to talk on the telephone, or might be out of the country for long periods of time, or they may just feel no longer able to cope with modern life.
So although the main purpose of an LPA is to give voice to the "incapacitated", it can be extremely useful at other times as well.
The amount of interest in the LPA (personal) has surprised us all. However research seems to suggest that the answer lies with the fact that many people, especially those of mature years, have become disenchanted with medical decision making, and the quality of treatment being given. Whilst many also want to avoid being kept alive artificially, when there is no real hope of a proper recovery, and they are left being an emotional burden upon their families.
Put simply, more and more people are now looking to have some element of control over their lives; via someone they trust, at a time when they are unable to communicate their own wishes. Before the existence of such instruments, if we became incapacitated we were largely at the mercy of the state and of institutions. With the creation of the LPA this no longer has to be the case, provided we act early enough.
AM Legal Services are particularly proud of the unique low cost LPA service we have created especially for the pensioners in our communities. Contact us and we will send you our free LPA information pack that will help make a complicated subject so much easier to understand.
Living Will - alternative to a LPA (personal)
Why would you want to consider an alternative to the LPA (personal)?
Two possible reasons:
- You feel that asking someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf would be asking too much and is unfair.
- Or, it might be cost. The LPA costs more, and might also involve yet another £110 registration fee.
So what exactly is a Living Will? The technical name is an Advanced Directive (AD), because you are making your wishes (directives) known in advance.
Every competent individual has a right to refuse treatment or to state circumstances in which they would not wish treatment to be offered to them. It is recognised that such wishes can be formally recorded in an Advanced Directive ("the Directive"). This is a document where your refusal of certain specific treatments or circumstances in which you would not want treatment to be offered is set out.
It is also worth noting that Living Wills are now recognised in Law, and as such are binding upon the medical profession, where previously they were not.
Two Things to Remember:
- The Advance Directive is effectively "tablets of stone", and after you have "lost capacity", cannot be undone! On the other hand, if you had chosen an LPA (personal) your attorney can at least talk to your medical team, when they might arrive at a decision you would have been happy with.
- Under an LPA, the doctors can still over rule the attorney(s)
In other words neither is a perfect answer, and you must make your choice, now, based on your best instincts, and good advice from family and friends. If you can avoid it, do not make the choice on cost alone, but rather on your instincts of what feels right and best for you.