Why should everyone consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney?
First published in the Jersey Evening Post Homelife edition 28 September 2022
People in Jersey are living longer than ever before. This is good news; however living longer may also present additional issues. For example, the increase in life expectancy has seen a rise in reported dementia cases.
With this in mind, it is becoming increasingly important that you make clear what should happen in the event that you lose the capacity to manage your own affairs.
Lasting Powers of Attorney let you choose who should manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity. A Lasting Power of Attorney enables you to plan how your financial affairs, health and wellbeing will be dealt with, just in case.
Making sure a Lasting Power of Attorney is in place as soon as possible is important. Without one, your loved ones may not be permitted to provide the care in the way you wish.
What types of Lasting Power of Attorney are there?
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney. The first type of Lasting Power of Attorney deals with your personal property and finances and the second deals with your personal health and welfare.
Choosing who will manage your affairs
When making a Lasting Power of Attorney you will choose a person or persons to act as your attorney. You can appoint more than one person and you can provide for replacement attorneys in the event that your first choice cannot act for any reason.
You can also add into a Lasting Power of Attorney instructions and safeguards as to how the attorney should assist you.
A Lasting Power of Attorney should be considered by every islander, young and old. Issues which impact on mental health can befall us all.
If you were to lose mental capacity without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, your loved ones would need to apply to the Probate and Protection Division of the Royal Court for a Delegate to be appointed to manage your affairs. There is likely to be a delay in which no one can deal with your affairs until a Delegate is appointed for you. This can put additional financial and emotional pressure on your loved ones during an already stressful time.
In contrast, once a Lasting Power of Attorney has been sent to the Royal Court for registration, it is usually only a short time before it is registered.
Some people worry about the possibility of financial misuse by an attorney. Whilst not entirely risk free, a Lasting Power of Attorney will have built-in safeguards to minimise the risk.
Firstly, your Lasting Power of Attorney needs to be witnessed by a member of an accepted profession who confirms that you understand the power that you are giving and that you are under no pressure to give it.
Secondly, there is recourse to the law. If someone has a concern about your attorney’s behaviour, they can contact the Viscount who will investigate.
Thirdly, the greatest safeguard of all is choosing people you trust completely to act as your attorneys it is you who chooses the attorney.
Your attorney can use your Property and Financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney while you still have capacity, with your consent. This can be helpful if you are out of the Island and need someone to help with your affairs or, if you are physically incapacitated but still have the mental capacity to make your own decisions.
Above all, the benefits of having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place now is peace of mind. By making and registering your Lasting Power of Attorney sooner rather than later, you remove a huge potential headache for your loved ones whilst having the comfort of knowing that if and when you lose mental capacity, the people you trust will be able to take care of your affairs straight away.