What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.
This gives you more control over what happens to you if, for example, you have an accident or an illness and can’t make decisions at the time they need to be made (you ‘lack mental capacity’).
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a completely separate legal document to your Will although many people put them in place at the same time as getting their Will written as part of wanting to plan for the future.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney available:
A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) which allows you to name Attorneys to deal with all your property and financial assets in England and Wales. The Lasting Power of Attorney document can be restricted so it can only be used if you were to lose mental capacity, or it can be used more widely, such as if you suffer from illness, have mobility issues, or if you spend time outside the UK.
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) which allows you to name Attorneys to make decisions about your healthcare, treatments and living arrangements if you lose the ability to make those decisions yourself. Unlike the Property and Financial Affairs LPA, this document will only ever become effective if you lack the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.
Why is a Lasting Power of Attorney so important?
Once you have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place you can have peace of mind that there is someone you trust (that you have chosen) to look after your affairs if you became unable to do so yourself during your lifetime. This may occur, for example, due to illness, disability, old age or an accident.
Many people aren’t aware that their spouse, partner, children or next of kin have no automatic legal right to manage their affairs without an LPA in place and this can leave the next of kin unable to make the necessary decisions or access assets, manage investments or sell property, when this action is needed.
You can only make an LPA when you have mental capacity. If you lose capacity then, in order for someone to obtain legal authority over your affairs, that person would need to apply to the Court of Protection and the Court will decide on the person to be appointed to manage your affairs. The person chosen is appointed your ‘Deputy’. This is a very different type of appointment which is significantly more involved and costly than being appointed attorney under an LPA. The Deputy will need to submit a yearly account to the Court and there are yearly court fees to pay as well as an insurance bond. The Court of Protection process currently takes around six months, during which time no one can use your funds to pay for things you may need.
Lasting Powers of Attorney – What are the options?
When you make an LPA you can appoint more than one person as your attorney. If you have more than one attorney, then you can specify whether they should act together or independently and there are pros and cons to both options.
You can also appoint replacement attorneys who can step in if your main attorney becomes unable to act for any reason.
A trust company can also be appointed as an attorney. Although this type of appointment will incur some costs, having a trust company as an attorney is very beneficial in certain circumstances as it provides a professional and independent approach whilst ensuring a person is never left without a capable attorney in place.
Your LPA can impose restrictions on your attorneys or simply give them guidance that will not be legally binding.
All LPAs need to be signed by a Certificate Provider who is in independent person confirming that you understand the document you are making and that no one has put pressure on you.
The document needs to be registered with the Office of The Public Guardian before it can be used and people choose to do this at different times, depending on how the document may be needed. The registration fee is £82 per document.
If you wish to have peace of mind that a particular person will have the legal authority to look after your affairs and you want to make matters easier for them and the process less expensive, then you should strongly consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney.
We can assist you by:
- Carrying out a full assessment of your needs and providing an explanation of your options.
- Preparing all of the necessary Lasting Power of Attorney documents and assisting you and your attorneys to sign them.
- Signing the document as the Certificate Provider or liaising with your GP or another appropriate person, to have them sign it.
- Providing fixed fee prices agreed upfront before any work on your Lasting Power of Attorney starts.
- Completing the registration of your document with the Office of the Public Guardian.
- Assessing whether you are eligible for an exemption of the registration fee and help you complete the exemption form, if necessary.
For further information or to book an appointment, please contact Price Slater Gawne on 0161 6155554 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org