When thinking about Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) individuals often believe that LPAs are only for later life and not something that can be helpful to them and their family earlier in life. But there are times when it can be helpful for younger people to also have LPAs in place.
We advised a client on putting in place LPAs due to their addiction to alcohol. The client was aged about 50 and not considered ‘elderly’
We were originally approached by the client’s children who were concerned about their parent’s health and were worried about the client’s ability to manage their financial affairs long term due to their addiction.
After discussing the possibility of putting in place LPAs with their children, we arranged a meeting with the client to discuss the options further.
As we would be putting in place LPAs, the parent is the client and not the children. Although we did liaise with the children to assist with the logistics of setting up meetings and obtaining information on names and addresses, we were very careful to ensure that we only did so with the client’s consent. We were also careful to ensure that all of our advice focussed solely on our client and what was in their best interests as the interests of the parent and the children were not necessarily the same.
We co-ordinated with the children to ensure that the client attended an initial meeting when the client was not under the influence of alcohol so that we could provide thorough advice on the benefits of putting both types of LPAs in place including the benefit of doing it now rather than waiting until the client’s mental health had deteriorated. We explained to the client that if [s]he lost capacity, [s]he would not be able to put LPAs in place at all.
We explained that a Property and Financial Affairs LPA would allow the client’s children to make decisions about the client’s finances, both while the client had capacity (with the client’s consent) and when capacity was lost. This would be helpful if the client’s capacity was likely to fluctuate over time which was possible while battling addiction.
We also explained that a Health and Welfare LPA would allow their children to make decisions about client’s care, including medical care and end of life decisions, if the client was no longer able to do so.
During our meetings with the client, we took the time to discuss all aspects of the matter in a clear and practical way to ensure that the client fully understood the powers being given to the children and to confirm that the client had not been put under any pressure to put the LPAs in place. We met with the client multiple times to enable the client to ask any questions and for us to be sure that the client fully understood our advice.
It was clear throughout the process that the client and their children had a trusting relationship and in the end the client put in place both LPAs appointing all of their children.
Putting in place LPAs was a practical solution to a very difficult problem which we needed to handle sensitively due to the client’s addiction. This matter demonstrates how LPAs can be used in a number of different cases to help families that are concerned about capacity issues of a relative no matter what age that relative is.