Lasting Power of Attorney: Planning for the Inevitable
Author: Louise Rance
Other than taxes, the only certainty in life is death. A morbid thought perhaps, but an inevitability that no one can avoid. What it does allow, however, is the opportunity to plan for the future.
Most people only start thinking about the subject in older age or after bereavement but, providing you are over 18, it’s never too early to start planning.
“It’s about taking control of what might happen to you in later years”, says Emma Wood of Russell and Russell. “Because no one knows what’s around the corner it’s important to make arrangements now, so that you know your estate will go to the people you want to have it, rather than who the law states should get it.”
There are two ways to plan; a Lasting Power of Attorney and a Will. Lasting Power of Attorney – or LPA – deals with affairs before death, whilst a Will takes care of things after the event.
“LPAs are increasingly important”, continues Emma. “We’re living longer and, therefore, more of us are exposed to age related illness which could prevent us from making decisions in the future. An LPA allows you to make those decisions in advance. Property, financial arrangements, welfare and even care needs can be organised. There may even be big medical decisions that need to be considered should you lose your faculties – all these can be accounted for in an LPA.”
Emma also believes myths surrounding Wills does nothing to help the situation: “Many people think they can do it themselves, but they often don’t take into account the complexities of the law and often learn, to their family’s cost, things are never as straight forward as they appear. Dying without a Will means your estate will take longer to finalise, which is not what your loved ones need to be dealing with at such a stressful and emotional time.”
Emma’s final words of advice: “Always use a qualified solicitor. They're bound by the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s code of conduct and are legally obliged to maintain high levels of service. If you don’t put your affairs in order, the law will and that could not only end up costing you money, but your loved ones too.”