Each of us hopes to remain healthy and independent for as long as possible. But there can come a time when we are no longer physically or mentally able to make decisions for ourselves. For this reason it is worth planning well in advance so someone you know and trust can manage your affairs for you if the need arises.You will need to grant someone you trust, or a number of people, the legal power to act on your behalf when and if you are not capable of making good decisions. This legal power is known as Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).'Power of Attorney is a legal agreement to enable third parties such as close family members to act on your behalf if you experience difficulty making decisions'Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is not easy to set up but essential to have. Without an LPA, even close family members may not have the authority to make decisions about your care in old age, your financial welfare or your assets. Never assume a person will be able to act for you simply because they are an immediate family member.There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney that can be arranged – Property & Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney and Personal Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (see below for more details). Both of these require a separate application and a separate fee when it has to be formally registered. It is strongly advisable to arrange both kinds of LPA so your affairs are fully covered. Arranging Lasting Power of Attorney is the only way to ensure the people you want to will handle your affairs when you can no longer do so.If an LPA is not in place and you suddenly become mentally incapacitated, you will be registered with the Court of Protection. A receiver will be appointed by the Court with sole power to make welfare and financial decisions on your behalf, including release of funds from bank accounts, sale of property and your medical treatment. It is possible for family members to apply to the Court of Protection to become the receiver but this can take time and money and their powers may still be more limited than under an LPA.