In our Ask The Legal Expert column we get the latest specialist advice from the Lifetime Planning team at JCP Solicitors. This month, Cherrie Powell, a Legal Advisor in JCP’s Lifetime Planning team, who is based in the Caerphilly office, discusses the importance of making Lasting Power of Attorney provisions.
I am a carer for my wife, who has a number of disabilities but she is mentally sharp. She has always been as independent as her body allows, but she wants to make sure I can look after her financial affairs and our joint financial affairs if and when she is unable to. Do we need a legal agreement for this, or, since we are married, will I have the right to do this anyway?
Many couples wrongly assume that being married or in a civil partnership gives them an automatic right to manage their partner’s affairs – unfortunately it doesn’t. For example, many companies impose a blanket ban on dealing with anyone other than the policy holder for fear of breaching the Data Protection Act. This can make life difficult for couples in your situation, so you are both wise to be looking at your options now and discussing them together.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is something you should consider. This is a legal document that allows a person to choose who they wish to manage their affairs in the event that they become unable to do so. Making an LPA does not mean losing control – in fact it is quite the opposite as a person – in this case, your wife – can choose while they are able to, who can act for them and when. This can be both in relation to property and financial matters as well as health and medical decisions. An LPA is a sensible precaution that works during your lifetime. After this, the provisions of your Will take effect.
A Property and Finance LPA, once registered, would enable you to act for your wife for the rest of her life, unless she revokes it. Furthermore, if you become unable to act for her, a replacement attorney (if appointed by her) could step in. So, you can act for her regarding:
Gaining access to financial information
• Buying or selling a property
• Operating a bank account, or investing
• Paying for private medical, residential or nursing care, or applying for funding for these
• Claiming and using benefits, pensions, allowances or rebates on her behalf
• Receiving income, inheritance or other entitlement on her behalf
It is important to seek professional guidance before you make an LPA, since everyone’s circumstances are different, and the details of an LPA can be tailored to suit your needs. Also, mistakes in an LPA can lead to delays and additional costs to rectify errors. Your wife is able to nominate a number of Attorneys or replacement Attorneys and she can specify whether they should act together or independently.
The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation. This content does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only.
For more information contact Cherrie on: 02920 860628 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Welsh is spoken in JCP Solicitors’ Caerphilly office.