Are you too young for an LPA?
As a solicitor specialising in this area of law, I’m pleased to see that more and more people are understanding the importance of putting Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in place. It’s a common misconception, however, that LPAs are something for the older generation only and not needed by younger adults.
We routinely find that we are contacted by adults who want to ensure that LPAs are in place for their older friends and relatives, but those same adults often have not considered the importance of having LPAs in place for themselves, this is despite understanding the importance and relevance of them for their relative.
Having seen first-hand the application of LPAs for young adults I find this concerning and would stress the importance of LPAs for all adults including young adults. Why is that? Before I go into the importance of LPAs, I’ll briefly outline what they are and what they can be used for:
What are Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)?
An LPA is a formal legal document which gives a person or persons of your choice (called your Attorney(s)), the power and authority to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime. There are two types of LPA:
1) Property and Financial Affairs LPA – This LPA allows your Attorney(s) to make decisions about your money and property; for example, paying bills, receiving income, or buying and selling a house. You can also have LPAs to cover business affairs if you run a business.
The property and Financial Affairs LPA can, if you choose, be capable of use while you have mental capacity (that’s the ability to manage your own affairs) and if you lose mental capacity. It can therefore be used if for example you need someone to assist with your affairs on a temporary basis as well as being capable of long-term use.
2) Health and Welfare LPA – This LPA enables your Attorney to make decisions about all health, care and wellbeing matters, such as where you live, what you eat and medical matters. You may also give your attorney(s) the power to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment on your behalf. This LPA can only be used in the future if the person who made the LPA lacks the ability to make a health and welfare decision for themselves.
Both types of LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used. This is the government body that supervises all lasting powers of attorney
For younger adults, it may feel too soon to create LPAs. As young adults we can feel invincible and hold the belief that LPAs simply will not be needed because we will be fully capable for many years to come, however they may be more useful than you think.
Why would a young adult need LPAs?
- Just in case, LPAs can only be made at a time when you have the mental capacity to make them – that means the ability to understand the nature and effects of the LPA document you are making. Therefore if a young adult has an accident or illness that results in them losing mental capacity, either temporarily or permanently, it is not possible to make one at that point.
- If you lack mental capacity to make an LPA, it will be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This can be a long, stressful and particularly costly process for your loved ones and there is no guarantee over who the Court would appoint as your Deputy. There are annual requirements and costs associated with a Deputyship order that aren’t an issue with an LPA. In addition, court of protection orders are rarely entirely satisfactory for health and care issues.
- The effects can be devastating; not just for you, but for your dependants. If you lose the ability to manage your financial affairs while you are young, even if the condition is temporary, the effect on your loved ones can be huge. Young adult life is likely to be one of the times in life where an individual has many responsibilities. Not having an LPA in place could mean leaving your partner, with no way to access your money. They could face a long and costly battle to access your funds and in the meantime be unable to pay the mortgage, household bills, or even pay for childcare and child maintenance. Even if you have critical illness cover in place, without legal authority in place, your partner may be unable to access it on your behalf.
- The impact can reach further than just your family; if you run a business and have staff and customers who are financially dependent on you. For example, can your business pay wages and honour contracts if you are absent?
- Unmarried couples many couples co-habit as opposed to getting married. Living together and purchasing properties together means a level of financial co-dependence. If married, it is less likely that a spouse would meet resistance from other family members if it was necessary to apply for a deputyship order if one of the couple lost the ability to manage their affairs. LPAs would ensure that in a difficult time your partner could deal with your funds to arrange payment of household bills, pay the mortgage and insurance and deal with any other financial matter relating to the property.What can be more distressing for an unmarried couple, however, is that whilst a hospital can in certain circumstances liaise with a ‘next of kin’, that relationship link is not as obvious for a non-married couple as it is for a spouse or other relative. No person can give medical instructions on your behalf without a health and welfare LPA in place, but for non-legally related persons, the walls can be higher and they can feel even more helpless in an already difficult situation.
- Back packing and working abroad? LPAs can often be useful to allow parents, for example, to manage financial matters for adult children while backpacking. I’ve seen this work well for several families. Those who work abroad, for example Military families can also benefit from having the added certainty and flexibility of having a trusted person assist with the management of finances while they are away.
Once you have created your LPAs they are there ready for using when required. They can only be used with your consent and can be revoked at any time if your situation changes.
How we can help
If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email email@example.com
Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.