One for the New Year 'to do' list.
NEW Year is a time to edit the 'to do' list. Whilst we might not all have announced brave New Year's Resolutions, I think many of us do find ourselves setting out, in our minds rather than in a spread sheet, a list of things to be accomplished within the year. Some might be work related; some might be more 'administration'.
May I recommend that you add one to your list - complete your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to ensure that your wishes will be met if you are not mentally or physically able.
Your life can turn around quickly. One moment you're absolutely fine, your normal self, and the next you could be incapacitated with no warning of what was about to happen.
This was brought home to me last week with the announcement that broadcaster Andrew Marr has suffered a stroke. Two days earlier he was interviewing the Prime Minister live on national television, alert and eloquent as we know him.
I'm sure thoughts of a stroke or sudden illness were far from the forefront of his mind. We wish him all the best, and hope he makes a full recovery.
However it is occurrences such as this that reinforce the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney. Any of us could be incapacitated at any moment, at which point it would be vital to have someone who can legally act on your behalf in relation to your finances, and your personal health and well-being.
The LPA replaced the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in 2007. The EPA was a straightforward four-page document, but evidence of people being financially abused led to the Government introducing the far more complex and lengthy LPA which has built-in safeguards to ensure the person signing is not being coerced into the process. By the way, an EPA completed before October 2007 remains valid.
To complete an LPA you require a solicitor, and the document must be registered with the Court of Protection before it is official and can be enforced. Without an LPA, your children, for instance, couldn't act on your behalf in financial transactions. You can imagine the person at the other end of the phone insisting that they must speak to the account holder - but if the account holder is unable to speak, without an LPA, you're at a loss.
Some, possibly many of you reading this will be thinking you will get round to this in a few years. You're thinking 'it won't happen to me'. But think twice. After all, I don't imagine Andrew Marr expected to be in a hospital bed right now.
So add LPA to your 'to do list' for 2013 and give yourself a little pat on the back when you've ticked that one off.
Robert Gibson, managing partner and head of employment law, Samuel Phillips Law Firm
Your life can turn around quickly. One moment you're absolutely fine, your normal self, and the next you could be incapacitated