Is a Lasting Power of Attorney a Good Idea?
Yes because a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) ensures that someone/people you trust can legally make decisions for you, this becomes vital if you are seriously injured or develop a disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
You choose the person or people you want to have decision-making authority (called your Attorney/s), and you choose the types of decisions they can make on your behalf.
An LPA also helps to ensure that anyone you wouldn’t want to control your affairs is prevented from doing so.
What Happens If there’s No Lasting Power of Attorney?
No one will automatically have the legal authority to make decisions for you, should you become unable to make decisions for yourself, whether through illness, injury or old age.
Your wife/husband and members of your family cannot make health and welfare decisions (even if they know what you would want), and they cannot access your bank accounts to transfer money to help you, or to pay your mortgage or other bills.
In order to get this legal authority, they would need to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order, which is a long, complicated and costly process.
What Does a Lasting Power of Attorney Cover?
There are two types of LPA, and it’s best to make both at the same time:
1. A health and welfare LPA allows your Attorney/s to make decisions about your medical care and day-to-day care. This can include where you live, what you eat, what medical treatment you receive and who you see.
2. A property and financial affairs LPA allows your Attorney/s to 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.
How Does a Lasting Power of Attorney Work?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legally binding document that gives your Attorney/s the power to make decisions on your behalf.
The process is that you make your LPA and register it with the Office of the Public Guardian. It will then be valid, ready for whenever it’s needed. Typically an LPA will only be used by your attorney once you’ve lost mental capacity. Therefore it might never be used, as you may not lose the ability to make your own decisions before you pass away.
But if you do lose mental capacity, your Attorney/s will immediately have the legal authority to manage your affairs. They will not have to make any further Court applications or obtain permission from anyone else.
The decisions your Attorney/s can make depends entirely on what you have included in your LPA. If you have more than one Attorney, the way they make decisions will also depend on what you have you have stipulated. For example, you might want them all to agree on decisions, or you might say that they can act individually.
When Does a Lasting Power of Attorney Take Effect?
It depends what type of LPA you have in place.
A health and welfare LPA can only take effect once you have lost mental capacity and are no longer able to make decisions.
A property and financial affairs 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 property and financial affairs LPA will simply take effect once you’ve lost mental capacity (just like a health and welfare 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/s 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.
How Do 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.
How Much Does a Lasting Power of Attorney Cost?
It costs £82 to register each LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian. If you are using the services of a legal professional, there will also be extra fees to pay. When you make a Lasting Power of Attorney with Co-op Legal Services, prices start from £270 (including VAT).
What Are the Most Common Problems with a Lasting Power of Attorney?
One the biggest problems we find is that many people wrongly believe that they don’t have to put an LPA in place now but can wait until they have lost mental capacity. We can’t stress enough that if you lose mental capacity you also lose the ability to make an LPA. Accidents and illness can strike at any time so delaying carries a risk.
The other issue we see is family members, usually the child, contacting us trying to put an LPA in place on behalf of one of their parents who is suffering from dementia. We have to explain that the only person who can put an LPA in place is the person it concerns. If this is the parent and they no longer have capacity to do this then the child will need to apply for ‘Deputyship’ instead.
This usually comes as a surprise to the child and also causes considerable disappointment once they’ve understood the amount of additional ongoing work and the costs involved. Particularly as this could have easily been avoided if their parent had simply put an LPA in place when they were able to.
For initial advice about making an LPA call our Will writers on 03306069591 or contact us online and we will call you.