What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and Why Do I Need One?

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What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why do I need one?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document, which gives someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf. There are several reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf. This could just be a temporary situation: for example, if you're in hospital and need help with everyday tasks such as paying bills. But you may need to make longer-term plans if, for example, you have been diagnosed with dementia and you may lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions in the future.

What is mental capacity?

Mental capacity means the ability to make or communicate specific decisions at the time when they need to be made. To have mental capacity you must understand the decision you need to make, why you need to make it, and the likely outcome of your decision.

Types of lasting powers of attorney

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a way of giving someone you trust (your attorney) the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do so in the future, or if you no longer want to make decisions for yourself.

There are two types of LPA:

LPA for financial decisions
LPA for health and care decisions.

LPA for financial decisions

An LPA for financial decisions can be used while you still have mental capacity, or you can state that you only want it to come into force if you lose capacity. This can cover things such as buying and selling property, paying the mortgage. investing money, paying bills, and arranging repairs to your property. You can restrict the types of decisions your attorney can make or let them make all decisions on your behalf.

If you are setting up an LPA for financial decisions, your attorney must keep accounts and make sure their money is kept separate from yours. You can ask for regular details of how much is spent and how much money you have. These details can be sent to your solicitor or a family member if you lose mental capacity. This offers an extra layer of protection.

LPA for health and care decisions

This covers health and care decisions and can only be used once you have lost mental capacity. An attorney can generally make decisions about things such as: where you should live, your medical care, what you should eat, who you should have contact with, what kind of social activities you should take part in. You can also give special permission for your attorney to make decisions about life-saving treatment.

Word of Warning

If you are married or in a civil partnership, you may have assumed that your spouse would automatically be able to deal with things like your bank account and pensions, or make decisions about your healthcare, if you lose the ability to do so. This is not the case. Without an LPA in place, they will not have the authority.

What happens next?

If you decide you want to put an LPA in place, your solicitor will have the relevant forms and an information pack from the Office of the Public Guardian. Your solicitor will help you fill in the form. The form needs to be signed by the certificate provider who is someone who confirms that you understand it and have not been put under any pressure to sign it. The certificate provider will most likely be your solicitor or another professional person such as a doctor or social worker. The LPA will then be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and will be processed within around 9 weeks.  It will cost £82 to register the LPA.

If you would like more information or to set up an LPA, please contact us on 01492 874774 or 596596 to speak to one of our expert solicitors.