08 Oct 2022
Wills & Probate
The number of couples living together, without getting married or entering into a civil partnership, is on the rise. Recent studies show that cohabiting couples now represent 1 in 5 of all couples that live together, but while it may be increasingly common, there are practically no legal rights when it comes to care or financial matters.
While spouse/civil partner will always have the authority to act as Next of Kin, cohabiting partners may not be afforded that same status. This is particularly crucial for health and welfare decisions.
It is wise, therefore, to set up a Power of Attorney as a couple – ensuring that those rights will be both afforded and protected.
What is power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document letting you appoint others (in this example, your cohabiting partner) to take care of your affairs, should you become mentally or physically incapacitated. It allows them to make decisions and/or act on your behalf.
As a couple, you will likely seek a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which gives your partner the control of your affairs until it is either revoked, or you pass away. It is important that an LPA is put in place before you are legally declared incapacitated but don’t worry, this doesn’t give your partner these rights unless you say the LPA can be used. Think of it more as a safety net, in case the worst happens.
How does an LPA work?
You can choose to allow your partner, if it becomes necessary, to have control over your health and welfare, your financial affairs (including any property you may jointly own), or both:
How do you put an LPA in place?
There are four basic steps in setting up an LPA.
Without an LPA, if you lose capacity, your partner may have to apply for a Deputyship through the Court of Protection. Not only is this a lengthy and expensive process, it is possible that any property you own cannot be sold, or joint bank accounts are frozen until it is approved.
Get in touch
If you would like to discuss any of the matters raised in this article and put steps in place to protect yours and your partner’s rights, get in touch. Our friendly, specialist Wills & Probate team at Harding Evans have years of experience and would be happy to talk you through the whole process.
Harding Evans is a trading name of Harding Evans LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in England & Wales (registered number: OC311802), authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number: 419663).