Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal tool that allows you to appoint someone to make certain decisions on your behalf. The appointed person can manage your finances for you in the future if you reach a point where you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself- whether temporarily or permanently, or because of an illness, disability or accident. They can also make decisions relating to your health and welfare.
There are two separate kinds of Lasting Powers of Attorney:
1. Health and Welfare LPA; and
2. Property and Financial Affairs LPA.
To make a LPA you must be over the age of eighteen. You must also have the mental capacity to make this decision. This means that you are deciding for yourself that you wish to make the LPA and that you understand what it means.
Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your health and welfare, if there comes a time when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. Such decisions include:
Where you should live;
- About your day-to-day care (including for example, diet and dress); and
- Whether to give or refuse consent to medical treatment.
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used when it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and you are in a position where you don’t have the mental capacity to make decisions about your own welfare.
Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney
A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney covers decisions about your finances and property. If there comes a time when you can’t manage your finances anymore, your Attorney will do this for you. This can include:
The buying and selling of property;
- Operating a bank account;
- Dealing with tax affairs; and
- Claiming benefits.
A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used when it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. It can then be used even while you have mental capacity to deal with these things yourself.
What if I do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
It is a fact that we have a growing ageing population in England and Wales and more people are living well into their eighties or nineties. If you have not set up a Lasting Power of Attorney when you have mental capacity, and you then lose capacity because of illness or accident, then one or more of your loved ones will have to approach the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy. The Court may either choose to make decisions itself on your behalf, or choose someone else, known as a “Deputy” to make the decisions for them.
Where the Court appoints a Deputy to manage someone’s property and financial affairs on an ongoing basis, the deputy usually has to keep accounts, enter into a security bond and report to the Office of the Public Guardian. This is a lengthy, unwieldy, expensive and often an unsatisfactory process when compared to setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney.
It can be reassuring to know that, if you are unable to make a decision for yourself in the future, your chosen person will make these decisions for you. This also prevents a stranger, or someone you may not trust, from having this power.
What do I need to do?
You will need to consult with a specialist solicitor for advice, and we will be delighted to help you with this.
It may be useful to think about who you think may be suitable to be your Attorney(s). This should be someone whom you trust completely and who is over the age of eighteen years. It is usual to choose close relatives and if no such persons are available then perhaps a friend, or professional such as a solicitor.
We will also advise you of the options of how your Attorneys could be appointed to act on your behalf.
A valid Lasting Power of Attorney must include a Certificate Provider. This is a person who must be an independent adult and who has known you for at least two years. The Certificate Provider should not be a member of your family or a business partner, or a paid employee of yours, or a director, manager, or an employer of a care home in which you may be living. Solicitors and general Medical Practitioners are two of the professional groups that are frequently asked to act as Certificate Providers.
You may need a person to be notified that you have set up or are about to register your Lasting Powers of Attorney. You may appoint up to five such persons. If you decide not to indicate any one to be notified then you should nominate a second certificate provider
What will all this cost me?
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney will not only give you and your loved ones peace of mind at a price you can afford but will also help you or them to avoid possible costly and often stressful Court proceedings. We would be happy to discuss these cost effective options with you.