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The Importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney
Ignorance is bliss and whilst it is natural to avoid thinking about the possibility of being unable to make decisions for ourselves, planning for the unforeseen cannot be overstated. Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are an essential tool granting those we trust the most the power to make decisions on our behalf if there ever comes a time when we’re unable to make our own decisions, regardless of age. Failing to have LPAs in place can lead to legal complexities and result in our wishes and preferences not being adhered to.
It is a common assumption that our spouses or partners have the automatic right to make decisions on our behalf when needed. We may take comfort in this assumption however, the harsh reality is that while our significant other often plays a central role in our lives, the legal system may not automatically grant them the authority to make decisions in the event of incapacity. Without LPAs, decisions relating to health and finances may be subject to complex legal processes. It may be that our loved ones need to apply for a deputyship order. This process is expensive, time-consuming and subject to delays.
The Consequences of Not Having LPAs
In the absence of LPAs, we also run the risk of losing our autonomy. LPAs allow us to express our preferences and wishes regarding our finances and healthcare. Without LPAs, we cannot be certain that our preferences and wishes will be respected and so any control we may have had over our future if LPAs were in place diminishes. Health & Welfare LPAs enable us to dictate treatment preferences, end-of-life care and other critical healthcare decisions. Without this LPA treatments and care may be provided when this was not desired leading to emotional distress and complications for us and our loved ones. Property & Financial LPAs allow us to appoint someone we trust to deal with a range of financial and property matters when we are unable to do so. Failure to have such an LPA in place could result in financial vulnerability, misuse of assets and preferences not being respected.
The absence of LPAs can lead to ambiguity in decision-making and family disputes. LPAs are the legal framework for expressing our preferences, without such documentation there is no clear authority or direction on what your wishes are regarding your finances and care. With a lack of clarity surrounding your preferences and wishes, decisions may be made that result in disagreements arising among family members who have differing perspectives on what the best course of action is. LPAs create certainty, provide clear direction and reduce any risk of family disputes arising from decisions that are made.
A life where we are unable to make decisions for ourselves is a daunting and unsettling thought. However, the reality is that life is unpredictable, and we do not know if or when we will be in a position where we cannot make decisions for ourselves. Planning for the unknown with LPAs is a proactive step we should all be taking to avoid legal complexities and to protect our interests.
How can we help?
Here at Thomas Flavell and Sons, we are here to help you. Contact our team of experts to prepare your Lasting Powers of Attorney and avoid any unnecessary complications later in life.
This blog was written by Zara Taylor, Trainee Solicitor in our Private Client Department. She has been with the firm since 2021 and is based in our Leamington Spa office. To find out more about Zara, click here.