Power of Attorney-Plan in case you lose mental capacity

April 11th 2023

One person in the UK develops dementia every three minutes. If an individual loses mental capacity without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place their relatives can be left unable to help access their bank and help manage their finances, even if it is to pay for their care.

Unless you have a Power of Attorney, loved ones would need to apply through court, which can be a long and costly process. If someone is unable to look after their affairs themselves but did not set up Power of Attorney in advance, carers need to apply to the Court of Protection. The court will appoint a deputy to make choices about the person’s finances, usually a family member or close friend. 

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where someone nominates a trusted friend or relative to look after their affairs if they later lost capacity. There are two types of LPA one for finances and property and the other is for health and welfare decisions.

Many people are wary of LPA’s as they worry that their family may take control before they intend them to. You can, however, choose whether it can be used either before, or only when, you lose mental capacity.

You may be thinking “this doesn’t affect us, we’re not old and are perfectly well”. This is a common misunderstanding. It is important to remember that you can only set up a Lasting Power of Attorney when you have mental capacity. Once you’ve lost capacity, it’s too late!

If you have mental capacity now is the time to act and get this important document in place. You will need to consider who you would like to be your attorneys and the decisions you are happy for them to make. Attorneys are the people who will make your decisions for you if you lose capacity and become unable to.  It’s vital you feel comfortable with your choice of attorneys. Communication is key!

You can only set up a Lasting Power of Attorney when you have mental capacity. Once you've lost capacity, it's too late!