A new concept to emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown has been ‘shielding’ – those who have been at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus who have had to minimise all interaction with others and stay at home as much as possible.
This has led to unforeseen daily difficulties for individuals who have previously been able to lead completely normal lives. For example, what happens if you cannot leave your home, but you need to visit your bank to complete an urgent transaction?
Is there anything practical individuals can do to protect themselves?
In these instances, Lasting Powers of Attorney (‘LPAs’) provide a useful tool to help facilitate an individual’s needs should anything arise in future leading to similar lockdown requirements.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA is a legal document which allows an individual to appoint one or more ‘Attorneys’ to help them make decisions or act on their behalf. You must be over 18 and have full mental capacity to make a legally valid LPA. Your Attorney(s) should be someone you trust to make decisions in your best interests – this could be a friend or relative or a professional person if you have no one close to you who you would like to assist you. A ’property and finance’ LPA will allow the Attorney(s) to sign documents on your behalf, discuss your accounts and investments and to transfer funds. If you do not want your Attorney(s) to have too much control, you can tailor the document to restrict what your Attorney(s) are allowed to be involved with.
Often, relatives and friends of elderly people take the step to draw up an LPA when their loved one becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. As we have seen during lockdown, an LPA can actually provide practical protection to a much wider group of people who are still very much in control of their own physical and mental capacity at the present time.
As long as your LPA does not contain a restriction that it will only come into effect if you loose mental incapacity, your Attorney(s) can use the document to act at your direction to do the things that you are unable to do - so with your consent your Attorneys would be able to move money around, do your shopping, pay bills for you, and manage your finances both due to shielding, or in hospital for any length of time or simply if you are due to go away on holiday.
It can be very sensible to get an LPA in place as a matter of course – perhaps if you are considering getting your will updated, you should arrange an LPA with your spouse, partner or trusted friend at the same time. You should also consider making a ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA which would allow your attorneys to make decisions about your day to day living, choice of medical treatment and where you should live – but only if you are unable to make these decisions yourself.
How we can help
If you would like to make an LPA now, we can assist in helping you do so while still observing the up to date government guidance regarding shielding, self-isolation and social distancing. Your LPA will need to be signed and witnessed in person, and we can advise on making this happen and are happy to come to you. We can also act as Attorney for a client who might not have anyone suitable to take on the role.
Once signed, we need to send the LPA forms off to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian which can take around eight weeks including a four week waiting period required by law. Due to the impact of Covid-19, we have been noticing longer delays on registration, so it is worth acting soon. If you need to appoint someone to act immediately, we can also prepare a ‘general power of attorney’ which will cover the interim period until the LPA is registered.
Our fixed fee Lasting Power of Attorney starts at £450 plus VAT for the preparation and registration of a Single Lasting Power of Attorney (Property or Welfare).
Contact Head of Private Client Caroline Billings at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01603 660 811.
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