We would all hope we will be able to make our own independent decisions in the future. Unfortunately for many of us that will not be the case.
A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to appoint people you trust to make decisions for you when you are no longer able to yourself.
How does a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) work?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document where a person (the donor), appoints one or more people as attorneys to make decisions on their behalf – if they are not able to do so in the future.
The LPA documents replaced the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) documents from 1 October 2007. Any EPAs made before that date may still be valid.
LPA’s must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used. They can be registered by the donor when they are made or by the attorneys when you lose capacity. You can revoke an LPA or EPA at any time while you have capacity to do so.
What does a Lasting Power of Attorney cover?
There are two types of LPA:
Property and Financial: deals with money and property.
Health and Welfare: deals with matters such as care homes, medical care, daily routines and life sustaining treatment.
Who can act as an attorney?
To act as an attorney, a person must over 18 and be able to make their own independent decisions. The attorney should be somebody who you trust. An attorney acting under a property and financial LPA must not be bankrupt or subject to a Debt Relief Order. When you are considering your attorney, you should think closely how well you know them and how they look after their own affairs.
What happens if I lose the capacity to make my own decisions and I don’t have an LPA?
If you lose capacity and do not have an LPA (or EPA) the only way that somebody can be authorised to deal with your affairs is by applying to the Court of Protection.
These applications can take several months and be very expensive. Unlike the LPA’s, there are also ongoing annual fees that are payable. You do not get to choose who is making the application and sometimes disputes arise between family members.
Common misconceptions with LPA’s
“I only need one if I’m elderly or diagnosed with dementia.” This isn’t the case. Anyone could suffer a head injury or an illness at any age and without warning which could lead to a sudden loss of capacity.
“I don’t need one if I’m married as my spouse will be able to deal with my affairs.” This is also wrong. Not only would a spouse not be able to deal with your assets – they may find that joint assets are also frozen.
Do I need an LPA?
In many ways LPA’s are very good things to have as they can make life a lot easier for those involved, avoid disputes and save a lot of money in the long run. However, they are powerful documents so it is vital that you obtain good advice before going ahead so that you can make fully informed decisions.
Get in touch
Our specialist team of wills and probate solicitors can provide you with comprehensive advice if you are dealing with the estate of a loved one. For more information, call 0800 988 7756 (FREEPHONE) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.