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It can be difficult to think about what happens when we are no longer able to make decisions. With many of us living longer and health conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s a real possibility as we grow older, it’s sensible to make some provision for this eventuality. 
 
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives a loved one or other third party the official sanction to act on your behalf.  A lasting power of attorney or LPA is used when you don’t have the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.  This might not be for something obvious like dementia, of course.  For example, you could have a stroke and be incapacitated for a while.  In this case, a power of attorney would enable your loved one to act for you until you recover sufficiently. 
 
There are two types of lasting power of attorney: 
 
Finance and Property 
 
This allows the attorney acting for you to make decisions on your finances and property while you are incapacitated.  This can be something as simple as going to the bank for you and paying bills or more complex matters such as arranging the sale of your home when you go into care. 
 
Health and Welfare 
 
This allows your attorney to make decisions concerning your health and welfare and can include all aspects of your medical care as well as dealing with organisations such social services on your behalf. It can mean your attorney makes sure you get your pills each day on time, organises appointments with, for instance, a dentist and manages daily care or your move into a nursing home. 
 
You need to complete two powers of attorney for both finance and property and health and welfare if you want your nominated attorney to take care of everything. 
 
What Happens If You Don’t Have a Power of Attorney? 
 
The LPA is there to provide your loved ones with the legal right to take over your care and manage your affairs once you are unable to do so.  If there isn’t one in place, then they will have to apply to the court to act as a deputy on your behalf.  Unfortunately, this can often take time and money to arrange. 
 
You can only agree to a power of attorney if you have the mental capacity to make the decision in the first place.  If, for example, you start to develop dementia, you will not be able to implement a legal document of this type. It pays, therefore, to get this done before you start to have any problems.  What it gives your loved ones is the tools they need should you finally reach the stage when you are no longer able to make decisions yourself. 
 
There are several issues that you need to work out.  The first, and perhaps most important, is who you want to act as your attorney.  Another might be what powers you want to give – do you want your loved one simply to be able to handle your finances or your health and wellbeing also? 
 
Working through the options with a qualified solicitor is important. At DSM Legal, you’ll get impartial advice from a professional team and they’ll be able to guide you through the process and what you need to put in place. 
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