You may wish to prepare for a time when you can no longer manage the running of your day-to-day affairs or deal with your paperwork yourself.
Powers of Attorney
You can apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and can choose one or more people you trust to deal with all or some of your property, finance or personal welfare affairs when, and if, it becomes a problem for you. You must apply for a LPA while you have capacity to do so.
People often appoint more than one ‘attorney’ to act for them, as a safeguard against abuse of the wide powers over property and finance that the Power of Attorney gives and because people may have different skills relating to property, finance or personal welfare. Attorneys may act ‘jointly’ (where they must all sign transactions) or ‘jointly and severally’ where only one person needs to sign. If you change your mind later about the person or people you have chosen, you can revoke the document.
An LPA must be registered with the Court of Protection before it can be used. The finance and property LPA can take effect immediately or when you lose capacity and this can be specified – the health and welfare LPA can only be used when you lose capacity.
You can use a solicitor to set up an LPA or alternatively fill in form online on the Office of the Public Guardian website: www.publicguardian.gov.uk.
Public Guardian Helpline 0300 456 0300
If you have already made an ‘Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)’ or are acting on behalf of someone under an EPA, it will still be valid under the new legislation unless the person who made it decides to destroy it and replaces it with an LPA. An EPA must be registered when the person loses capacity if it is to be used.
The Mental Capacity Act allows you to make an ‘advance decision to refuse treatment’ if there is a particular medical treatment you would not want in the future. This could include life-sustaining treatment.
In the future you may not be able to tell people what treatments you don’t want – perhaps because you can’t communicate or because you don’t have the mental capacity. Your family may know your wishes, but what if they aren’t there?
You should write down your advance decision and give a copy to key people – your family and your GP for example, if you can’t write, then tell them your advance decision.