According to the Alzheimers Society, by 2025 more than 1 million people in the UK will have dementia. One in five people over 85 already suffers with it, with rates significantly higher among women than men. Handling your financial affairs after you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself becomes very difficult which is why we would recommend everyone plans ahead in case the worst should happen.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you to authorise another person (your attorney) to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of LPA, one in respect of health and welfare decisions, and one for property and financial affairs.
A health and care LPA will allow your attorney to make decisions on your behalf about the health and personal care you receive if you were to lack the mental capacity to make these decisions for yourself.
A financial decisions LPA, once registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, will allow your attorney to deal with property and finances, and is a flexible document that may be used before the onset of any mental incapacity (if you want it to) as well as lasting beyond.
If you lose capacity and do not have an LPA, it may become necessary for an application to be made to the Court of Protection for an order appointing someone else to act on your behalf. This can be expensive and time consuming.
WHAT ABOUT MY BUSINESS ?…..
As a business owner it is important to consider what would happen to your business were you unable to make decisions because you were abroad, suffer an injury, be unwell or mentally incapacitated. You may assume that family members or colleagues can step in and manage things but this may not be the case. Unless you have appointed an attorney, fundamental business operations may not be possible like accessing bank accounts, paying suppliers or paying salaries. You could lose valuable contracts as a result of having no one in place to make key decisions for you.
It is important to select a suitable attorney (or more than one attorney) who you trust; someone who is familiar with your business and who you know is capable of making those important decisions for you. Once in place, the LPA will allow your attorney to make financial decisions for you exactly as you have directed.
A business LPA will be appropriate in most circumstances, but it is important to first establish the type of business you have and what provision if any has been made for incapacity within the company articles of association, partnership or shareholder agreements.
If you are in any doubt as to what provision has been made for your business to continue in the event that you are unable to manage your financial affairs, or wish to discuss LPA’s generally then please contact Philippa Pipe on firstname.lastname@example.org who will be happy to advise as to the best way forward for you.
Philippa Pipe is a solicitor who specialises in mental capacity issues, Court of Protection proceedings and Powers of Attorney. She is an accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly