A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document which gives people (the attorneys) power to make decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so yourself, due to mental or physical impairment.
The possibility of losing mental capacity can be a distressing thought and is often seen as something which does not need to be considered until the future.
However, your documents need to be put into place whilst having capacity and they are best made sooner rather than later; capacity can be lost at any age, through an accident, a stroke or a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s.
Many people mistakenly believe that a spouse/ civil partner has the right to access their partner’s assets without the need for a Lasting Power of Attorney. If capacity is lost and there is no Lasting Power of Attorney in place, an application has to be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship in order to make decisions on the donor’s behalf.
This is a lengthier process, involving higher and ongoing costs. Until a Deputy is appointed, the spouse/civil partner will not be able to access the accounts which can cause great financial hardship. Deputyships for health and welfare are not often permitted and if the Court allows them, it is often a social worker or a medical authority, or even the Court itself which will make decisions on the donor’s behalf.