Many people have heard of a Lasting Power of Attorney (previously an Enduring Power of Attorney), but associate it with something you arrange later in life when you “start feeling iffy”.

Here we will investigate some of the myths and realities surrounding mental incapacity and Lasting Power of Attorney.

 

Myth

Mental incapacity is something  that only affects people in later life, through illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, so I don’t need to do anything just yet.

Reality

Accident or illness can strike  at any time, often without warning.  The consequences of failing to plan can be significant, as outlined in this article, so why leave something so important to chance?

 

Myth

If I suffer an accident or illness, my spouse or children will automatically be able to take over the running of my affairs as my next of kin.

Reality

Your spouse or children have no automatic right to act on your behalf. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, they will be required to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy – a long, complex, costly and intrusive process.

 

Myth

I can simply add my spouse or children to my bank accounts, as a joint account holder would just  carry on as normal in the event of my mental incapacity.

Reality

Banks are guided by  the British Bankers’ Association to freeze both solely and jointly held accounts where one account holder loses mental capacity (they may allow pre-authorised payments).

 

Myth

When creating a Lasting Power of Attorney, it’s best to appoint my spouse and children to act together jointly.

Reality

Many poorly advised individuals have fallen into this trap. Appointing family jointly means they must act together in all matters, rendering the Lasting Power of Attorney useless when one of the appointed family can’t act – incapacity or death is not an excuse!

 

Myth

If anything happens to me and a decision needs to be made about life-sustaining treatment, the doctor will automatically follow the wishes of my next of kin.

Reality

Only through a Lasting Power of Attorney can you give the people you trust the right to make choices about  your health and welfare, including the ability to refuse life-sustaining treatment if you wish.

 

A Lasting Power of Attorney is often likened to an insurance policy – you hope you’ll never need it, but your family will be very grateful for your foresight if you do. It’s the only way to have your say about who you trust to manage your affairs and make things as simple as possible for your loved ones.

 

Click here or call Reader’s Digest Legal today for your free information pack on 0800 031 9516 and quote ref RDL2

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