There are many good reasons to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and this is why I am glad we made one for my dad, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimers:
Russell Hames (Bill) is my step-dad. He was 55 years old when my mum noticed that his memory was not what it used to be. I made excuses for him. This big, strong man had been a Police Officer. He was my “go to” person in a crisis. He had a sharp mind, a keen sense of humour and busy and active social life. I reasoned there must be another cause for what was happening rather than what my mum was thinking.
Sadly in 2012 at the age of 62 he was diagnosed with vascular dementia. By 2014 he could not speak in full sentences, he could not find his words, he could no longer drive and his personality had changed dramatically. By 2015 he was not able to look after himself at all, he was angry and surly most of the time and had become paranoid and untrusting. He would not sleep and would keep my mum awake all night and demand her immediate and continual attention day and night.
One morning in late 2015 he got up and something had changed overnight. He was territorial and did not want anyone in the same room as him. My mum called me to come over and shortly after that his friend Gary arrived to take him out for the day as he often did. My dad insisted that he leave the apartment immediately, closely followed by my mum. He let me in but subsequently insisted that I leave also. He then put all of mum’s belongings in a bin and refused to let us in. This standoff lasted 10 hours with me and my mum sitting outside in the car and my dad in the apartment, not letting us in whilst we waited for help to come from the relevant authorities.
Overnight my dad had lost the capacity to make any decisions for himself. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act that day. Had we not planned ahead and put a LPA in place we would not have known what he wanted, we would not have been able to honour his wishes and my mum would not have been able to pay her bills, keep her car on the road or fund my dad’s needs. We did not know that his disease could or would change him overnight and if we had not had a LPA in place for his Health & Welfare and Financial Affairs, it would have been even more of a nightmare than it already was. Having a LPA in place does not make this experience any less painful but it does make dealing with practical things easier at a difficult and distressing time.
There are many good reasons to make a LPA that might be more personal to you. Here are just a few:
According to the Alzheimer’s Society by 2025 there will be more than 1 million people in the UK that have dementia and 1 in 5 people over the age of 85 already have it.
It enables you to decide who handles your financial and health affairs when you can no longer do so. This means that you are in control and you can appoint someone that you trust.
Without a LPA handling your financial affairs, if you become incapacitated or lose mental capacity, becomes virtually impossible.
If you do not have a LPA in place and you become incapacitated your loves ones face a lengthy and expensive delay and will have to apply to the Court of Protection to get permission to take control of your assets and finances.
Having a LPA in place eases the burden on your loved ones at an already difficult and upsetting time.
If you have a health and welfare LPA in place you will have your say and make your wishes clear regarding the treatment you do or do not want in certain circumstances. You have a voice even when your voice has gone.
There are two types of LPA:
Property & Financial Affairs
This gives your attorneys the power to:
- Access your money to pay your bills
- Manage your bank accounts, for example to set up and cancel direct debits, etc
- Deal with the rental or sale of your property to help with your care costs if necessary
- Manage your investments
- Maintain your pension and benefits
- Your attorney will have the same access that you had to your property interests and financial affairs and it is therefore imperative that you appoint attorneys that you trust.
- If you wish, a property and financial affairs LPA can be used before you lose mental capacity, for example if you are injured or disabled and unable to get out to collect your pension, do your banking etc.
Health & Welfare
This gives your attorneys the power to:
- Make decisions about your daily routine, what you will wear, what you will do, what you will eat etc.
- Your attorney can make decisions about your medical care. They can make sure that your wishes are passed on to your treating medical professionals. If you do not want to be resuscitated and do not want any heroic measures if you stop breathing for example, your attorney can ask for a “do not attempt resuscitation order” to be put in place. They can ask for certain medication to be withdrawn with a doctor’s consent. Any health decisions that you could make for yourself they can make for you.
- They can decide where you will live, what kind of care you will have and whether this will be at home or in a care home. You can put restrictions in the document regarding what your attorneys can do. You can include guidance on how you want decisions to be made and what your wishes are should you lose mental capacity. A health and welfare LPA can only be used once you have lost mental capacity to make those decisions for yourself.