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My parents are very elderly but are in good health. Should they consider making Lasting Powers of Attorney?

Dementia Action Week – Day 3 Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney

Given your parents advanced age, it is recommended that they set up Lasting Powers of Attorney to cover any emergencies or future illnesses.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a recognised legal document whereby your parents would appoint people that they trust to make financial and health and welfare decisions on their behalf. Two separate Lasting powers of Attorney are required; one to deal with money and the second covering more intimate matters. The Property & Financial Affairs LPA can be used with your parents’ permission as soon as it has been registered whereas the Health & Welfare LPA can only be used when your parents can no longer make decisions.

It is preferable that more than one person is appointed so that there will always be someone to act as decision maker.

Who should act as an attorney?

The persons involved can be family members, friends or professionals. Should your parents wish to retain control as long as possible, they can initially appoint each other then either you or your siblings as replacement or back up attorneys. Owing to the differences in nature between the two types of Lasting Power of Attorney different attorneys can be appointed for each. For example, if your brother is an accountant he may be the most appropriate choice for a financial attorney whereas if you live nearer you may be a better candidate for the more intimate, personal day to day matters.

How should the attorneys act?

Should they choose you and your brothers or sisters, you can either act together; meaning that you all have to sign or separately meaning that either of you can sign. Flexibility is always important so it is often suggested that attorneys act both jointly and separately.

What types of decision are covered by the Lasting Powers of Attorney?

The financial Lasting Power of Attorney would enable you to access and manage your parents’ money as if it were your own. That said all the money would still be invested in their name and you would be required to discuss all decisions with them and act in their best interests at all times.  The property & Affairs Lasting Power Of Attorney would give the attorneys the legal authority to sign the paperwork for the sale of the family home. This can be particularly important if the house is the only real asset and the proceeds would be needed to pay for care. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place if the house cannot be sold funds cannot be released to pay for care for a long time, sometimes for nine months whilst an order is awaited from the Court of Protection.

As far as the Health and Welfare Lasting power of attorney is concerned this covers personal decisions such as how your parents are to be looked after, where they live and whether or not they give their attorneys consent to refuse life sustaining treatment on their behalf. As part of the document they can put in writing any preferences for their well-being. For example they can specify that they wish to be given baths instead of showers.  Instructions are more binding than preferences for instance you parents may stipulate that they must not be moved into residential care unless their doctor is of the opinion that they can no longer live independently.

How can Cognitive Law help?

A Later Life expert would meet with your parents in the comfort and privacy of their home to discuss their options and to guide them through the process. Since your parents are in good health the applications can be signed off by our team rather than your parents’ doctor saving time, money and distress.

By Michele Henderson