What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
A short guide on the why and how of appointing a Power of Attorney
By Angela Jeffery
If someone has difficulties that mean they can’t make decisions anymore, they will need help managing their finances. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where someone (while they have mental capacity) nominates a trusted friend or relative to look after their affairs IF they were to lose capacity. It is important to remember…
You will not be suddenly giving up your control. You can choose whether the LPA can be used either before, or only when you lose mental capacity (Obviously if that happens, which it may not!!).
Your representative should only make a choice for you if you are unable to make that specific decision at the time it needs to be made. For example, if you fall into a coma, your representative would start looking after your affairs. Yet if you wake from the coma, you should be able to make your decisions yourself again.
There are two types LPA
The Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows a nominated individual to make decisions over day to day healthcare and medical treatments, as well as deal with any health and social care staff. This LPA can only be used after a person loses capacity, not before.
The two LPA’s are two separate legal procedures that are independent of one another. Just because you have given a trusted person power of attorney over your health, that doesn’t mean they automatically gain control over your financial affairs and vice versa.
Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney allows a nominated individual to make decisions about your finances to include buying or selling property, bank, building society and other financial accounts. Welfare benefits etc. Thinking about and talking about these things is difficult but unexpected situations can occur and if you do not have an LPA your loved ones will have to apply through the courts to become a ‘deputy’ which can be a long and expensive process.
You can only set up an LPA when you have mental capacity. If you lose Mental Capacity it is too late. I know this is pretty depressing but the common conditions which could affect us all are: stroke, coma, delirium, concussion, severe mental
health problems, neuro-disabilities/brain injury, alcohol and drug misuse, Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s.
How to Make a Lasting Power of Attorney Firstly, it is very important that the person making the LPA knows what the form is about and understands the process. The person must also be completely confident and trusting of the person or people they nominate, (you can have more than one attorney) and it is a good idea to include all the family and/or most trusted friends in the process.
- Decide if you need to use a professional (either a solicitor or qualified LPA writer) – you do not have to, but it may be easier if you have complex assets such as businesses or overseas property.
- Do it Yourself – it is much easier than it used to be, everything you need is online. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/make-a-lasting-power-of-attorney. You can fill the forms online and will then need to print them out and sign them. Or fill them out by hand after printing them. You can get help from the Office of the Public Guardian: 0300 456 0300. Post them off and they can be used as soon as they are registered.
- Registering the LPA. The whole process can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/register
Each LPA costs £ 82 to register in England, so if you do both that will be £164.00. If you earn less than £12000 per year and can provide evidence this is the case the fee is £ 41 each.