As much as we would all like to think we will remain fit and healthy throughout our lives, a time may come when we are incapable of making the important decisions.
To give yourself peace of mind that someone will be acting in your best interests should you lose your mental capacity, you can nominate a family member or friend to make these decisions for you.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint a person you trust (the attorney) to act on your behalf. There are two types of LPA, one relating to property and finance and the other to personal welfare.
Powers of attorney
There are three types of Power of Attorney and their purpose is to enable someone to deal with your financial and personal affairs on your behalf. The three types are as follows:
This allows someone to deal with all your affairs for an undefined period or until you lose mental capacity. It cannot be used after this
This power only relates to specific issues such as the purchase of a house, or to deal with just one bank account. The power ends if you lose mental capacity
These came into force on 1st October 2007 and were designed to replace Enduring Powers of Attorney (although old ones can still be used). There are two types available, the first relates to finances and property and the second to healthcare. These documents can continue to be used even if you have lost mental capacity.
With a growing elderly population and the increase of medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, the Lasting Power of Attorney has become increasingly important.
We offer fixed fees for most powers of attorney and home visits are available.
Lasting powers of attorney
Property and finance LPAs give the attorney the authority to manage your assets in the same way you do, including paying bills, buying and selling property and looking after your investments. Personal welfare LPAs allow the attorney to determine where you live, access your medical information and even be involved in decisions about your treatment.
You can only sign an LPA whilst you have the mental capacity to do so. Without one, your family would have to make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to act on your behalf. This is an expensive and time consuming process and until a deputy is appointed, family members would be prevented from making decisions. The court may also decide the deputy needs supervision, resulting in additional costs.
Your attorney must be 18 or over, not have been declared bankrupt and have mental capacity. You can appoint more than one attorney and decide whether they must act together at all times or whether they can make decisions independently.
An attorney must act in your best interests at all times and encourage you to make decisions for yourself. They are required to account for their dealings and keep your finances separate from their own.
LPAs cannot be used until they have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. The fee for registration is £82 and details will then be held by the court. When filling out the LPA forms, an independent person must confirm your capacity to sign – they are referred to as certificate providers.
An LPA is a powerful document and you should always take independent legal advice before signing one. Most importantly, you should be aware that it can be cancelled at any time, provided you have the mental capacity.