Many older people value their independence and see making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) as giving up their autonomy to some extent, so it can often be difficult to know how and when to raise the subject of LPAs with your parents or other older relatives.
Understandably people often do not want to acknowledge that with age they may be starting to find their affairs more difficult to manage, but it’s important to have these discussions and take action while your parents are still able to legally make decisions concerning LPAs. Dealing with these issues at an early stage can make things much easier for the whole family in the long run.
When should we start thinking about Lasting Powers of Attorneys?
A Lasting Power of Attorney can only be made while a person still has capacity to decide to do so. While most people worry about illnesses associated with old age such as dementia, younger people can also lose capacity, for example following an accident or stroke, so it’s important not to put off thinking about making an LPA.
When people leave it too late to think about making an LPA because they no longer have the mental capacity to make the decision, families have no option but to go to court to obtain the necessary powers to deal with the person’s finances. This can often be an expensive and lengthy process.
Who should I involve?
Some people find it easier to discuss the matter with brothers and sisters first, while in other cases it may be better to raise the topic directly with your parents. Many older people prefer to discuss things with their children or other trusted family members first, but they will need to make all the important decisions themselves.
Who can be an attorney?
Anyone can be an attorney as long as they are over 18 and do not lack mental capacity themselves. Some people find it easy to choose who they would want to deal with their affairs, while for others it is more difficult.
Parents often want to treat all their children the same, but it may not be best to appoint all children as attorneys for practical reasons. Being an attorney can involve a lot of time and work, so some family members may be unsuitable because they live far away or have too many other commitments.
Alternatively, some people prefer to choose an independent professional such as a solicitor or accountant.
While it is often difficult to have conversations about LPAs with relatives, the problems that may arise when an LPA is not in place means that it is necessary to ensure that these arrangements are in place should they ever be needed.
For more information on making a Lasting Power of Attorney, or to discuss any aspect of family law please contact Jennifer Larton on 01772 258321