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As a doctor you’ll be aware of LPAs (Lasting Powers of Attorney) but do you actually have one in place?
Everyone knows you need to write a will at some stage in your life, and even though we are regularly reminded of the indiscriminate nature of accidents leading to diminished capacity, it’s often felt that LPAs are only a concern for older people – in fact, only 1% of the population has an LPA.
An LPA is a safety net for you and your loved ones and it’s incredibly important to have one in place – no matter how old you are.
There are two types of LPA: financial, and health and welfare. You can choose anyone over the age of 18 to be your representative (as long as they haven't been declared bankrupt), and they can be reviewed at any time so you can change your nominated representative if your situation changes.
Don’t have an LPA? Here are five things to consider:
LPAs don’t just protect you when it comes to dementia. Accidents can happen at any time, no matter how careful you are. Take Michael Schumacher as an example – the helmet he was wearing at the time of his skiing accident in December 2013 undoubtedly saved his life, but he was still in a coma for six months and continues to need full time care. As a result, his finances and welfare decisions need to be managed by someone else. Having an LPA in place allows you to choose who will make financial and health decisions on your behalf.
A financial LPA can ensure that your life carries on, even if you are unable to manage it yourself. Your representative(s) will be able to pay your bills for you, so there's no risk that important things such as your electricity or even your phone contract get cut off while you're unwell.
If your bank finds out that you are mentally incapacitated (whether temporary or on long-term), they can freeze your account – including any joint accounts. If your account isn't frozen, without an LPA your partner is at risk of prosecution if they spend your money (or your half of any money in a joint account), even if it’s being spent on your care.
If you have children, having an LPA allows you to make essential provisions for their care. You may wish to write a joint LPA with your partner to ensure that there is a contingency plan if you are both incapacitated.
An LPA will allow you to ensure your religious beliefs or lifestyle choices are respected. For example, if you are vegetarian, your representative can ensure that you receive vegetarian meals if you are in hospital. Through your health and welfare LPA, you can even give your representative the authority to get your hair cut, and decide what you wear.
If you don't have one in place and something should happen to you, it will be down to the Office of the Public Guardian to make any decisions on your behalf. Your family can apply for something known as deputyship, but this can be a long and expensive process people – they have been known to cost up to £15,000 in solicitors’ fees alone.
BMA Law offers an LPA writing service at a discounted rate for BMA members. What's more, if you write your Will at the same time, you receive a 20% discount.
Contact BMA Law today and make sure you and your loved ones are taken care of.
E: [email protected]
T: 0300 123 2014
Rebecca King is a Marketing Executive at BMA Law