Lasting Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you (the ‘donor’) to appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. There are different types of Power of Attorney, depending on your needs…
Powers of Attorney
If during your lifetime you develop difficulties that results in you being unable to make decisions for yourself, you will need help managing your affairs. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that enables you to appoint a trusted friend, relative or professional (known as an attorney) to help manage your financial affairs and/or make decisions about your health and welfare.
The key thing to remember is, you can only set up a LPA when you have mental capacity. Once you’ve lost capacity, it’s too late. Adults of all ages should consider making a LPA as anyone can lose mental capacity, for example, through illness, as a result of an accident or because of the onset of dementia.
By making a LPA, you do not suddenly give up control. You can choose whether it is only to be used if you lose mental capacity or, with a property and financial affairs LPA, whether you would like for it to be used before as well (for example, you would simply like some help you with your affairs or you have a physical impairment which means you find some things difficult to do by yourself).
Your attorneys cannot do whatever they like, they must act in your best interests and follow the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
There are two types of LPA, these are:
Property and Financial Affairs LPA – This allows you to choose one or more people to make decisions about money and property; for example, paying bills, collecting benefits, making investments, selling your home. This type of LPA can be used as soon as it is registered (with your consent) unless you stipulate otherwise.
Health and Welfare LPA – This allows you to choose one or more people to make decisions about things’ such as medical care and moving into a care home. There is also an option to give your attorneys authority to make decisions about life sustaining treatment. A Health and Welfare LPA can only be used if you lose mental capacity.
Both types of LPA need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used.
A LPA allows you to plan in advance and allows you to maintain some control over decisions other people may have to make for you. It is an important document and you should take great care in choosing your attorneys. They should be trustworthy and have the necessary skills to make the decisions that you are entrusting to them.
If you do not have a LPA, someone may need to apply to the Court of Protection to be able to manage your affairs. This can be a costly and lengthy process and can be very stressful for those involved. You will not have control over who applies to the Court and this could mean that someone who you would not necessarily have chosen, will be able to make decisions on your behalf. They will also not be aware of your views or wishes on certain matters.
Enduring Power of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney replaced the previous Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) system. An EPA set up before 1 October 2007 is still valid in relation to your finances, but it does not cover decisions relating to your health and welfare.
An EPA is only registered if you lose capacity and we are able to help register the EPA if the need arises
Ordinary or General Power of Attorney
This covers decisions about your financial affairs and is valid only while you have mental capacity. It is suitable if you need cover for a temporary period (such as a hospital stay or holiday) or if you find it hard to get out and about.