A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document whereby a donor (eg. yourself) entrusts a personally selected attorney or attorneys to deal with certain personal matters once they themselves lack the capacity to do so.

According to Rob Martins at Cheesmans Accountants, an LPA is essential if you want peace of mind – particularly if you own a business. It enables your attorneys to make decisions about your business should you be unfit to do so yourself.

If you become incapacitated without an LPA in place, an application will have to be made on your behalf to the Court of Protection for someone to be appointed your deputy. This process can take months and is costly.

A number of things could go wrong in your business during this time and no one will have the power to step in and sort things out.

An LPA can quickly appoint a person of your choice to deal with your business affairs on your behalf. This can protect you from such things as banks recalling loans and mortgages or foreclosing on property should payments be missed during the time an application to the Court of Protection is made.

In the LPA application, you can give guidance to your attorneys so they will know exactly how you wish your business affairs to be treated. It is a document that can protect you, your business, employees and your family – and therefore it should not be ignored.

There are two different types of LPAs:

• Health and Welfare (allowing decisions on treatment, care, medication, where you live etc) and

• Property and Financial Affairs (allowing an attorney to make decisions about paying bills, dealing with the bank, collecting benefits, selling your house, etc)

From a legal perspective, LPAs only cover people in England and Wales and therefore may not be enforceable in any other country (including Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Many people are of the opinion that they do not need to complete an LPA if they are young, or of sound mind. However, one cannot be certain of every eventuality and so, should the unexpected happen and you are incapacitated for any length of time, someone will need to be able to pay your bills and even make decisions in relation to your healthcare.

Therefore, regardless of your age or your current state of health it is worth completing and registering an LPA in preparation for any eventuality.

You can find the relevant forms at www.justice.gov.uk