Manage your financial affairs during COVID-19 with an ordinary power of attorney

Suddenly the everyday tasks that we took for granted before the COVID-19 pandemic such as visiting the bank, paying bills and withdrawing money become impossible during a period of self-isolation.

If you, or indeed a close friend or family member, are currently self-isolating at home, you might be worrying about how to manage this situation. There is a simple and straightforward solution – an ordinary power of attorney.

What is an ordinary power of attorney?

An ordinary power of attorney (OPA) is a temporary arrangement whereby you give someone you trust the authority to deal with your financial affairs while you’re unable to do so.

You can give someone power of attorney to deal with all your financial affairs or for specific matters only, for example, to manage your bank account, or deal with utility providers.

Unlike a lasting power of attorney (see below), an OPA doesn’t need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian so is effective as soon as you sign it. Also, you can quickly cancel the OPA when you no longer need it.

The only instance in which an OPA isn’t suitable is if you have a mental health problem or disease, which can lead to mental incapacity.

What is a lasting power of attorney?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a longer-term arrangement and plan for the future. When you set up an LPA you appoint one or more people who will make decisions on your behalf when you’re no longer able to do so, i.e. you lose your mental capacity, or you no longer wish to make decisions for yourself.

There are two types of LPA – one covers your health and welfare while the other concerns your property and financial affairs.

If you’re currently in the process of setting up a financial LPA or considering one, we recommend you also set up an OPA to cover your short-term situation. It takes approximately three months to set up an LPA, whereas an OPA can be done within a day.

How do you set up a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document, so if you want to set one up, you will need to speak to a solicitor.

We’re still able to offer this service during the Coronavirus lockdown. We’ll talk you through the process by phone or video chat. And, when the documents are ready, we’ll arrange to witness you sign the documents either at your home or at our business premises while fully complying with the government guidelines on social distancing.

We currently charge £120 + VAT for a single OPA or £160 + VAT for a couple’s OPA.

Our fees for setting up an LPA start at £395 + VAT, and we’re currently offering a free OPA to all clients who instruct us to set up an LPA. If you have any questions on lasting powers of attorney or would like to set one up, please call us on 01404 515427 or email us at advice@eastdevonlaw.co.uk.

EAST DEVON LAW IN OXFORDSHIRE

East Devon Law LLP is delighted to announce that they have a new Consultant Lawyer based in Oxfordshire.

It may seem strange that a firm founded and based in East Devon is coming to Oxford, however, there was strong connection between our Senior Partner, Derek Hunt, and Oxfordshire through his Oxfordshire ancestry. Derek’s Grandfather, Edward Edens, was born at Home Farm, Blenheim Park and was baptised in the chapel at Blenheim Palace. The family’s ancestors can trace back to 1690 and have been present in many villages in and around the 0xfordshire area. Derek is also one of the early members of the Oxfordshire Family History Society and so has a strong family connection with the area.

Derek Hunt says “With the strong family connection to Oxfordshire we have been looking to provide our award winning legal services to that area and are delighted that that will be provided by Anna Garland who can continue to provide the excellent service for which East Devon Law is renowned”

Anna Garland, is a Graduate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (GCILEx), and specialises in Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney, Court of Protection and Probate matters. She is passionate about good client care and communicating in a language that clients will understand. Anna takes the time to ascertain your individual requirements, explain the options and provide you with cost effective solutions to your Private Client legal needs.
East Devon Law LLP has a team of eight qualified lawyers including four solicitors and a Notary Public and is the highest rated legal services provider in the South of England under the Trading Standards Buy with Confidence Scheme.

For a professional, caring, all round service that is unique and accessible please:
Phone Anna on: (01865) 595537
E-mail Anna at: anna.garland@eastdevonlaw.co.uk
or alternatively submit a request via the contact page on our web site www.eastdevonlaw.co.uk

Making advanced health decisions

Few of us want to think about how we might die and make plans for that. It’s not a comfortable topic to contemplate and in normal times not something we would ordinarily have to consider. However, given the grim reality of the current coronavirus pandemic, the question of how we might die is one that many of us will want to address.

What is an advance decision?

An advance decision (sometimes known as an advance decision to refuse treatment), allows you to record any medical treatments that you don’t want to be given in the future, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself. Previously they were known as “Living Wills”.

You can use an advance decision to refuse any treatment, including life-sustaining treatment such as resuscitation, artificial nutrition and hydration, or breathing machines.

You can’t use an advance decision to:

  • Refuse basic hygiene treatment such as washing, bathing, changing dressings, and procedures to control the spread of infection to other patients.
  • Refuse measures to control pain and maintain personal comfort.
  • Ask for any treatments that are against the law, and that may be considered as assisting you in taking your own life or are associated with euthanasia.
  • Refuse treatment for mental disorder if you have been or are likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

If made correctly, an advanced decision is legally binding in England and Wales and must be respected by the health professionals administering your care. It’s valid as soon as it’s signed and witnessed.

Why make an advanced decision?

An advanced decision ensures you have choice and dignity at the end of your life. Made while you’re fit and well (and mentally sound) it covers the “What if?” situation. Should it ever be needed, it will relieve your family of having to make difficult decisions about your care.

An advance decision will only be used if, at some time in the future, you’re not able to make your own decisions about your treatment.

How do you draw up an advanced decision?

There’s no statutory form for an advance decision, and it can be as simple or complex as you like. However, to ensure the advance decision is legally binding, it must meet specific criteria, so we recommend that you seek guidance from a legal representative.

If you’re considering drawing up an advance decision, we offer a free initial 30-minute discussion where we can talk you through the process.

If you’d like to go ahead, we can take care of the documentation and process for you. When the documents are ready, we’ll arrange to witness you sign the documents either at your home or at our business premises while fully complying with the government guidelines on social distancing. If you have any questions on advance decisions or would like to set one up, please call us on 01404 515427 or email us at advice@eastdevonlaw.co.uk.

How to protect your health care wishes

The current coronavirus pandemic raises many questions regarding our health and end of life care. Not least, will doctors follow my medical wishes if I became unwell?

Earlier this month, a GP surgery in South Wales came under fire for asking all of its patients with serious health conditions to a complete do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. The DNR means that a doctor will not attempt to resuscitate a patient if their heart stops. Although the surgery received strong criticism, this practice may become commonplace as the pandemic continues.

Although an uncomfortable topic for many, thinking and planning for what could occur in the future will give you control when it happens.

If you want to protect your health care wishes, there are two routes available to you:

  1. An advance decision
  2. A lasting power of attorney (LPA) for health and welfare

What is an advance decision?

An advance decision (or an advance decision to refuse treatment), allows you to record any medical treatments that you don’t want to be given in the future, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself. Previously advance decisions were known as “Living Wills”.

An advance decision is valid as soon as it’s signed and witnessed so is quick to put in place.

What is an LPA for health and wellbeing?

An LPA for health and wellbeing allows you to assign someone you trust (the “Attorney”) the power to act on your behalf regarding your medical treatment and care. Should you become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself, your attorney will do that for you. So, you must discuss your wishes with your attorney so they can honour your choices when the time comes.

The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it’s required. The process usually takes around eight weeks to complete.

Advance decision or LPA?

Advance decisions provide an immediate solution, whereas an LPA is appropriate for the longer-term.

Although different in their execution, both share common characteristics:

  • They’re only an option if you’re over 18 years of age and have mental capacity.
  • They’re legally binding documents in England and Wales.
  • They will only come into play if, at some time in the future, you’re not able to make your own decisions about your treatment.
  • They can be cancelled or amended at any time while you have mental capacity.

What next?

Both advance decisions and LPAs are legal documents, so you will need specialist assistance to set either of them up.

If you’re considering one of these options, we offer a free initial 30-minute discussion where we can talk you through the process.

If you’d like to go ahead, we can take care of the documentation and process for you. When the documents are ready, we’ll arrange to witness you sign the documents either at your home or at our business premises while fully complying with the government guidelines on social distancing.

If you have any questions on legally protecting your health care wishes, please call us on 01404 515427 or email us at advice@eastdevonlaw.co.uk.