A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables someone to appoint a third party (called an ‘Attorney’) to deal with his or her affairs. It ensures that the people you trust will be able to make important decisions on your behalf if you become mentally or physically incapable of doing so for yourself.
Whilst LPAs are most often used to deal with the affairs of the elderly, if they are prepared much earlier in life they will give the same protection in the event of incapacity as a result of illness or accident. Anyone aged 18 or over can create an LPA but only while they have the mental capacity to do so. This means it is important to think ahead and get things in place.
Replacing Enduring Powers of Attorney
LPAs replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) from the beginning of October 2007. The basic difference between the two is that while an EPE only enables other people to act on your behalf in relation to financial decisions, an LPA can also enable them to act in relation to health and care decisions.
If you have an existing EPA then this remains valid during your lifetime unless you revoke it, but you can no longer make a new one. You may wish to consider making a health and care decisions LPA to complement your existing EPA.
Who takes responsibility?
Making an LPA does not restrict your right to control your affairs for as long as you feel able. The appointment of an Attorney means that there is someone to take over if you cannot cope. At any time, you may ask your Attorney to take responsiblity for various aspects of your affairs.
What do LPAs cover?
There are two types of LPA, one dealing with financial decisions and the other dealing with health and care decisions.
Property and Financial Affairs LPA
This entitles your Attorney(s) to manage your property, bank / building society accounts and / or investment portfolio.
They will also be able to discuss your affairs with financial institutions and Government departments, and they will have the power to buy or sell your assets, including your home.
A Property and Finance LPA can be used at any time. It might be useful, say because you are travelling abroad and need a representative to deal with things, or simply because you would rather not deal with money.
Health and Welfare LPA
This type of LPA can only be used when you are no longer able to make your own decisions.
It entitles your Attorney(s) to decide things such as where you will live, what you eat and wear, and the medical care you receive in specific, end-of-life situations.
Your Attorney(s) will also be able to access and discuss your medical records.
Choosing your attorneys
You will wish to choose people you trust completely and are over the age of 18. An attorney under a Property and Financial affairs LPA should not be bankrupt. People usually choose their spouse and often their children, and other relatives or close friends. An alternative is to choose a professional person such as a solicitor. If you appoint more than one person you will need to decide whether they are to act 'jointly' or 'jointly and severally'.
You can appoint different Attorneys for each LPA, but remember, you are handing over considerable power to somebody else, so it is important to consider things carefully and take advice.
Acting jointly means that the attorneys must all sign everything at all times; this can help to ensure that the right decisions are made but may not always be practical depending on your choice of attorneys.
Acting jointly and severally
Acting jointly and severally means that the attorneys can either act together or individually.
When does an LPA become active?
Your attorney(s) will only be able to act once the LPA has been signed by you and your attorney(s), and certified by a suitable person that you have not been pressured into making the LPA. It also has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.
If you would like to discuss making a Lasting Power of Attorney, please get in touch on 023 9298 1000.
- Preparing and Registering a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Preparing and Registering a Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Help for dependents of people without Lasting Powers of Attorney
- General (Ordinary) Powers of Attorney
- Advice re existing Enduring Powers of Attorney and Registration of existing Enduring Powers of Attorney
- Obtaining mental capacity reports where appropriate
Providing advice where it is not possible to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney due to lack of capacity
- Advice re duties and powers of Attorneys
- Advice re disputes relating to Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Applications to the Court of Protection including Deputyship applications
“If it had not been for the EPA I would have had real problems even discussing my mother’s affairs with banks, investment companies, government departments and care providers, much less paying her bills from her account.
“Being able to supply copies of the EPA to the various parties meant they would speak to me and act on my instructions. Without it I would have had to pursue a long, complicated and expensive legal process – at a very difficult time personally.
“I would absolutely recommend planning ahead and making an LPA. It could make a huge difference to your loved ones.”