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Lasting power of attorney from £354
Appoint one or more people to make decisions on your behalf.
What is a lasting power of attorney (LPA)?
A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime. The people you appoint to manage your affairs are called the attorneys. 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 planning for the future.
How much does a lasting power of attorney cost?
A lasting power of attorney costs from £354 including VAT. Mirror lasting powers of attorney start from £594 for two people.
What does a lasting power of attorney cover?
There are two types of LPA.
A health and care LPA lets your attorney make decisions about your medical treatment and day-to-day care. This can include where you live, what you eat, what medical treatment you receive and who you see.
A financial decisions LPA lets your attorney handle (and make decisions about) your money and property. This can include paying your bills, selling your property, collecting your pension and collecting your benefits.
Common reasons to have a lasting power of attorney
If you become unable to express your wishes, an LPA enables someone to step in and make decisions for you about your health and care or your finances. These important decisions will be made by someone you choose and trust and you can choose the right type of lasting power of attorney for your circumstances.
A lasting power of attorney is significantly cheaper than the alternative, which is a deputyship order. A lasting power of attorney comes into effect as soon as it’s needed, so your chosen attorney can step in straight away.
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 to look after your affairs if you became unable to do so yourself during your lifetime. This may occur, for example, because of an illness or old age or an accident.
Having a lasting power of attorney in place can allow your attorney to have authority to deal with your finances and property as well as make decisions about your health and welfare. Your lasting power of attorney can include instructions for your attorney, as well as your general preferences for them to consider. Your LPA should reflect your particular wishes so you know that the things that matter most would be taken care of.
You can only put an LPA in place whilst you are capable of understanding the nature and effect of the document. If you lose this capacity, you cannot enter into a LPA and no one can do so on your behalf.
Many people don’t know that their next of kin has no automatic legal right to manage their affairs without a lasting power of attorney. Without an LPA, making decisions on someone else's behalf can be a long and significantly more expensive process.
Mirror lasting power of attorney documents
One solution for couples is to have mirror lasting power of attorney documents. As the name suggests, these documents will mirror one another, allowing each person appoint the other to make decisions for them if they lose capacity. They can also both name the same person as a backup or replacement attorney. This might be one of their children, for example.
We offer an advice led legal service, many other online LPA websites simply provide a DIY document production service.
What happens without a lasting power of attorney?
Without a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in place there is no one with the legal authority to manage your affairs, for example, to access bank accounts or investments in your name or sell your property on your behalf. Unfortunately, many people assume that their spouse, partner or children will just be able to take care of things, but in reality no one automatically has the authority to do step in and make decisions for you.
In these circumstances, 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.
If you want peace of mind that a particular person will have the legal authority to look after your affairs, without them needing to go through a costly and complicated process, consider making a lasting power of attorney.
Can a joint bank account be used instead of an LPA?
Joint bank accounts do not offer any financial protection, unlike a lasting power of attorney (LPA). When an LPA is activated, the attorney's activity will be supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The activity of joint bank account holders is not monitored by any governing body, meaning that individuals are relying entirely on the goodwill of their relatives.
By setting up joint accounts with relatives or granting them informal access to bank accounts, people are potentially putting their finances at risk. Often issues only come to light after death, when bank accounts come under closer scrutiny and evidence of financial abuse may surface.
Furthermore, this type of arrangement can also place the family member (who was added to the account) in a legal grey area. They could face allegations of financial impropriety after the account holder's death, because they weren't accessing the account under the correct legal process of using an LPA.
Another major consideration when holding a joint account with a family member is that on death, the account and its contents will automatically pass to the surviving account holder. This means that the money may not be included as part of the deceased person's estate and not distributed in line with the terms of their will (or the rules of intestacy).
A more secure and legally robust way for someone to grant a relative access to their finances is to put a lasting power of attorney in place.
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Types of lasting power of attorney explained
Two types of lasting power of attorney are available under English law:
- health and care lasting power of attorney
- financial decisions lasting power of attorney
Lasting power of attorney for healthcare and care decisions
A health and care lasting power of attorney 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 financial affairs LPA, this document will only ever become effective if you lack the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.
If you can’t communicate your wishes, you could end up receiving care or treatment that you wouldn't have chosen. Maybe you would refuse to receive certain medical treatments or to be put into a nursing home if you were able express yourself. This is when your attorney, appointed by the lasting power of attorney, can speak for you.
Lasting power of attorney for financial decisions
A financial decisions lasting power of attorney 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.
When does a lasting power of attorney take effect?
It depends what type of LPA you have in place.
A health and care LPA can only take effect once you have lost mental capacity and are no longer able to make your own decisions.
A financial decisions LPA can take effect before you lose the ability to make your own decisions, although you must give permission. If you don’t provide permission, your financial decisions LPA will simply take effect once you’ve lost mental capacity (just like a health and care LPA).
Who can witness a lasting power of attorney?
Only an independent adult can witness your LPA. Therefore none of your attorneys can act as a witness. Whoever you choose must be aged 18 or over and be of ‘sound mind’. If you don’t get your LPA witnessed properly, it may be considered invalid.
Does a lasting power of attorney continue after death?
No, a lasting power of attorney does not continue after death. Once you die, your attorney will no longer have the authority to make decisions on your behalf. Instead this responsibility will fall to the executors or administrators of your estate.
What to do if an LPA attorney dies before you
If your appointed attorney becomes seriously ill or dies, what happens next will depend on what your LPA says and whether you are still able to make your own decisions at this point.
If you have appointed additional attorneys in your LPA, they may be able to step in and act. If you only appointed one attorney, you'll need to make a new LPA appointing new attorneys (as long as you still have capacity to do so).
If you don't make a new LPA and your only named attorney is unable to act, your LPA won't be able to be used.
How can I make a lasting power of attorney?
You can make an LPA online with the Government or we can help you. Because LPAs are legal documents that involve making a number of important decisions, lots of people choose to get the help of a legal professional.
Should I appoint more than one attorney?
It’s a good idea to name a backup attorney who can step in to act if your original attorney is unable or unwilling to do so when the time comes.
That said, we always advise against appointing multiple attorneys to act together jointly, as this can bring its own set of challenges. Some people assume that the best course of action is to appoint their spouse and their children to act jointly, but this means that all attorneys need to act together on every single matter. This is the case even if one attorney becomes unwell or dies, meaning the LPA could essentially become worthless.
Proving mental capacity when making a lasting power of attorney
The term 'mental capacity' refers to an individual's ability to make their own decisions, and an individual needs to have sufficient mental capacity to put an LPA in place.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 states that in order to have capacity to make an LPA, an individual must:
- have all of the relevant information about lasting powers of attorney
- be able to retain this information
- be able to weigh the information up to arrive at the decision to put an LPA in place
This means they must fully understand what the document is, how it works and its implications. They must also be making their decisions independently and be able to communicate these decisions either verbally, using sign language or by some form of movement such as blinking or squeezing a hand.
If someone has been diagnosed with a condition that will ultimately compromise their ability to make decisions, an assessment needs to be carried out to determine whether they have capacity to put an LPA in place.
An independent professional, such as the person's social worker or GP, is best placed to carry out this assessment. The outcome of the assessment should be carefully recorded in case it's needed in the future and the person who carried out the assessment can also act as a witness.
Lasting power of attorney application fee
Before a lasting power of attorney can be used by your attorney it must be registered with The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). They charge a fee for this. If you would like us to register your LPA for you then we will ask you to provide this payment.
However, there can be an exemption for people who receive certain means-tested benefits, and a 50% fee reduction may be available based on the applicant’s financial circumstances or a reduction based on the applicant receiving Universal Credit. For details see Office of the Public Guardian fees.
Co-op Legal Services fixed fee lasting power of attorney does not include the OPG registration fee, nor their fee for a certified copy of a lasting power of attorney.
LPAs for sole traders and SME business owners
If you are a sole trader who runs a small business it is vital that you understand what could happen if you don't put a lasting power of attorney in place. While an LPA is not a requirement to run your business, a financial decisions LPA will help if you are unable to manage your business because of a serious illness or accident.
Consider what would happen to your business if you lost the ability to deal with your own business affairs and make decisions. What if you have a business bank account in your name as a sole trader or joint bank accounts with other business owners which require the signatures of all the named account holders? How would your business finances be managed on a daily basis in the event of an accident or illness?
A number of problems could arise such as the impact on your customers being unable to access your products or the financial implications for your staff or creditors. Without an LPA, the risks to your business could include:
- non-payment of wages to staff
- non-payment of invoices, particularly if bills were paid by cheque
- no access to bank accounts
- no access to business information for HMRC or your accountant
By putting a financial decisions lasting power of attorney in place you can give your business the protection it needs. This could mean the difference between your business surviving or being closed down.
Why use a professional lasting power of attorney service?
An LPA is a legally binding document which is more complex that you might expect, and it's easy to get this wrong. A poorly drafted LPA could be found to be invalid or ineffective when it's needed, meaning that it's essentially worthless. This is why we would always recommend getting your LPA professionally drafted.
Benefits of making a lasting power of attorney with Co-op Legal Services
Our lasting power of attorney service includes:
- dedicated LPA specialist to look after you throughout the process
- direct-dial phone number for your LPA specialist
- full assessment of your needs and explanation of your options
- all the necessary documents prepared for you, ready to sign
- fixed fee prices agreed upfront before any work on your LPA starts
We offer an advice led legal service through both our online and telephone channels. Some other online LPA providers simply provide a DIY document production service. The distinction is very important. LPAs are incredibly powerful documents and it’s very easy to make mistakes or misunderstand what they are, what they do and how they can be used.
That’s why we ensure that all of our customers receive a bespoke, tailored telephone consultation to review their wishes and discuss their circumstances and options with an expert before their LPAs are drafted and paid for.
For peace of mind, we can take full responsibility for the registration of your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which will require payment of both our fixed fee and the OPG registration fee.
What our professional fee includes:
Our professional service includes:
advising on the different types of LPAs available and their benefits
advising on the choice of attorney and replacements, and how and when they can act
advising on the appointment of an appropriate certificate provider
advising on any preferences or instructions to limit what the attorneys can do
preparing the LPA document
sending the LPA with full instructions for signing by the donor, attorneys and certificate provider
checking that the LPA has been signed correctly by all parties in the right order
completing and submitting papers to register the LPA at the Office of the Public Guardian
corresponding with the Office of the Public Guardian
dealing with any challenges or requisitions raised by the Office of the Public Guardian
returning the registered, bound LPA for safekeeping together with additional solicitor certified copies if requested for attorneys to use (at no extra cost)
The dangers of a DIY lasting power of attorney
Where issues often arise with LPAs is when people try to draft these documents themselves, without professional advice.
Do you know how to appoint replacement attorneys, for example, or how to appoint multiple attorneys to act either jointly or severally? If you want to leave instructions for your attorneys, do you know how to word these in a way that makes them legally sound and avoids any ambiguity?
Another risk of going it alone is that your appointed attorney may not be clear on what is and isn't permitted in their role. Remember that when your LPA comes into effect your Attorney is likely to have a lot on their plate. They may be caring for you or coming to terms with an accident or illness that has taken your mental capacity. The last thing you want is for them to be hauled before the Court of Protection because of an accidental breach of duty.
Investigations by the Office of the Public Guardian
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is the government organisation responsible for overseeing lasting power of attorney and deputyship arrangements in England and Wales. The priority of the OPG is to protect people who are not able to make (or express) their own decisions.
If the OPG believes that an attorney or a deputy is acting in a way that is not in the best interests of the individual, then they will launch an investigation.
Friendly service conducted in plain English over the phone. (C. Cousens)