Planning for Incapacity: Power of Attorney

Planning for Incapacity: Power of Attorney

Age-related challenges like loss of mobility or illness can hinder affairs management, leading to stress. Unpaid bills amid incapacity prolong recovery, affecting both young and old. Elderly relatives losing capacity add financial concerns to emotional burdens for loved ones.



Planning for Incapacity: Power of Attorney
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Planning for Incapacity: Powers of Attorney

In preparation for potential incapacity, comprehending powers of attorney and selecting an appropriate attorney are vital steps. Let’s delve into these aspects:

Understanding Powers of Attorney

At some point in life, there may arise circumstances where you are unable to make or communicate your own decisions. In such situations, having a power of attorney in place can provide invaluable assistance. So, what exactly is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that designates someone, known as your ‘attorney’, to make decisions on your behalf. There are various reasons why you might need someone to act on your behalf. It could be a temporary arrangement, such as when you’re hospitalised and require assistance with financial tasks. Alternatively, it could form part of long-term planning, especially if you anticipate a decline in mental capacity due to conditions like dementia.

Understanding Mental Capacity

Mental capacity refers to the ability to make and comprehend decisions, understanding their implications. No one can make decisions on your behalf unless it’s established that you lack mental capacity. Lack of mental capacity means being unable to understand relevant information, weigh up options, retain information long enough to make a decision, or communicate that decision effectively.

However, mental capacity is not a static state; it can vary depending on the decision at hand or the individual’s circumstances. Therefore, assessments of mental capacity should consider the person’s ability to make specific decisions at the time they need to be made.

Exploring Types of Powers of Attorney

There are three main types of powers of attorney:

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): This document appoints an attorney to make either financial or health and care decisions, or both, on your behalf. It can be set up while you still have mental capacity and can be revoked if necessary.

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA): This type, mainly for financial decisions, was valid if created before 1st October 2007, but is no longer used for new arrangements. LPAs have replaced EPAs for new appointments.

General Power of Attorney (OPA): This type is for financial decisions only and is valid only while you still have mental capacity. It can be useful for temporary situations, such as hospitalisation or travel, but it’s usually advisable to set up an LPA for long-term planning.

Choosing an Attorney

Selecting the right attorney is crucial for ensuring your interests are protected during times of incapacity. Whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, or professional, consider factors such as reliability, responsibility, and ability to act in your best interests. It’s advisable to appoint more than one attorney to prevent potential abuse of power and ensure continuity in decision-making.

Final Thought

Understanding powers of attorney is crucial for planning ahead and ensuring your affairs are managed appropriately in times of incapacity. By selecting a suitable attorney and establishing the right type of power of attorney, you can proactively safeguard your interests and well-being. 



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