How Powers of Attorney Can Help During COVID-19

Year Published: 2020

The re-imposed lockdown restrictions have meant that it is now even more difficult to physically visit loved ones in care homes. We have all heard upsetting stories on the news about people being isolated, and even being “stolen” from care homes because family members are so desperate for unrestricted contact with their loved ones.

In reality, families have very little power when it comes to deciding what happens to a vulnerable loved one at the current time. There are a string of new measures and court decisions which seem to be constantly changing on the subject of care home visits, and it is well known that moving a vulnerable elderly person’s home can be catastrophic for their health.

How Can Lasting Powers of Attorney Help?

Having a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), or an older Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), in place could simplify things in the future.

Whilst a power of attorney won’t change restrictions in place at any given care home, it will give your family more rights to make decisions about your welfare, and this could include a decision to move home or to allow access in some circumstances. Therefore, the LPA could be more useful than ever at this time to ensure that your wishes, or your parent’s wishes, are upheld. Now is a good time to consider making or – if you have one already – reviewing your LPA to ensure that your decisions are being made by the right people if you lose mental capacity.

Should I Update my Enduring Power of Attorney?

Enduring Powers of Attorney – made before October 2007 – are still valid documents, but are gradually becoming less common and less well understood by administrators within various institutions. For example, an EPA does not need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) unless the donor (the person who made it) is either losing their ability to manage their own financial affairs, or has already lost it. This is often questioned by banks, who may insist on seeing a registered EPA whatever the circumstances of the donor.

EPAs only cover financial matters, whereas LPAs can cover both health & welfare, and financial matters. Therefore, if you have one of the old EPAs, you should consider whether a Health and Welfare LPA would be useful, as well as whether to update your EPA into a Property and Financial LPA. This might be because your family has changed, or because you do not want to have the inconvenience of your family needing to register your EPA if you lose capacity yourself in the future. If you are doing a Health and welfare LPA, you can also do a new financial one and register them both together.

At these unpredictable times, it is certainly worth considering whether you have all of the documentation in place that could make things smoother for your family to step in if you are unwell for an extended period.

If you would like more information about visiting care homes during lockdown, you can view the official government webpage here.

For further information about Enduring or Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact Genevieve Powrie on 01625 442146 or email [email protected].

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