Last year the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) launched the ‘Your Voice, Your Decision’ campaign to raise awareness and encourage people to make lasting powers of attorney (LPAs)
The campaign used research which showed that people from low-income groups and Black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BAME) communities are the the least likely to have LPAs in place. 
Coronavirus has disproportionately affected these groups. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that everyone knows they can plan for their future using an LPA. 
The OPG’s campaign is intended to help everyone understand their options. It aims to increase awareness of the need to plan for the unexpected and the peace of mind LPAs can bring. 

LPA misconceptions 

Research completed before the campaign started highlighted some of the misconceptions people have about their financial affairs and their care if they lost the capacity to make decisions for themselves. 
For example, if a couple have a joint bank account and one person can’t make decisions for themselves, 73% of people believe their partner can continue to access the account. In fact, it’s likely that a joint bank account will be frozen, at least for a time, which could leave a partner without access to funds. 
72% of people also believe that their next of kin will be able to say what should happen if medical treatment is needed and they are unable to make or express decisions. However, a doctor’s priority is your care and their professional decisions might differ from the wishes of your family. 
In these situations, an LPA will allow someone you trust to make decisions about your personal welfare which doctors must take into account as long as their decisions are in your best interests. 

Setting up LPAs 

With an LPA you can make arrangements to cover all sorts of situations. This could include your wishes if you are diagnosed with a lifelong condition or if you have an unexpected injury. Your LPA will only become effective if you lose mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. 
You can also set up a financial LPA that can be used to make decisions even if you have capacity. This can be useful if you will be working abroad for a while, for example. In the LPA you can say how your attorney can act on your behalf, perhaps to pay bills or to make withdrawals from your bank account. 

Choosing the right attorneys 

Your attorneys should always be people you trust and who understand what you want them to do. They don’t have to be family members, but they must be over 18 and you must be confident that they will act in your best interests
You can appoint several attorneys, including replacement attorneys. They can act individually, together, or both, so it’s important you discuss how you would like them to make decisions. 

LPAs for business owners 

You can also set up LPAs to help people run your business if you are unable to make decisions. These can be personalised through instructions and preferences included in your LPA form. 
For example, you can set up a financial LPA to appoint trusted members of your business to make financial decisions about things like managing payroll and day-to-day running costs. 

LPAs during COVID-19 

You can still meet social distancing rules and set up LPAs during the coronavirus outbreak, even if you are self-isolating or shielding. 
If you would like more information about LPAs, please get in touch
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