Everybody who makes a Will should also make a Lasting Power of Attorney - Property & Financial Affairs (an 'LPA-PA'), because if you care enough about what happens to your assets after you die, you ought to care even more about keeping them safe whilst you are alive. While a Will ensures that your estate is distributed according to your wishes when you die, an LPA-PA protects your assets by authorising somebody chosen by you to deal with your property and financial affairs on your behalf (should you become unable to manage them yourself) whilst you are alive.
If you do not have an LPA-PA, then if for any reason you suddenly become unable to manage your own affairs, e.g.
- You suffer an accident and are confined to bed or hospital
- You suffer a more serious accident which permanently incapacitates you
- You become mentally incapacitated as a result of old age or for some other reason
Then, the only way that your financial affairs can be managed is by an application (by a relative or other person close to you) to the Court of Protection This can take up to 10 months to process and is likely to cost in excess of £1,000 and the person authorised to handle your affairs on your behalf may not be the person you would have chosen. It could even be a Court Official - who can (and will) charge every time he/she acts for you. However, if you do have an LPA-PA, your chosen representatives can act for you straight away if you become unable to handle your own affairs.
Note that you must be mentally capable to make an LPA-PA. Therefore, just like a Will, you don't have one then by the time you really need one it's too late. Finally, the LPA-PA cannot be used until is has been registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (the 'OPG').