How Does a Lasting Power of Attorney Work?

22 November 2019

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that works by giving a named person (your 'attorney') legal authority to manage your affairs on your behalf. There are two types of LPA available in England and Wales, and these work in slightly different ways. One covers Health and Welfare, while the other covers Property and Financial Affairs.

It's possible to have just one type of LPA, however many people choose to put both types of LPA in place. You can choose the same attorneys on both LPA's, however it is also possible to appoint different attorneys on each.

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Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, no one automatically has the legal right to make decisions on another person's behalf. This even includes immediate family members, contrary to popular belief.

A Lasting Power of Attorney can only be made by the individual that it concerns. No one else can put an LPA in place on their behalf. What's more, it's only possible for someone to make an LPA if they have sufficient mental capacity to understand what it is, how it works and its implications.

If a person loses mental capacity and they have not already put an LPA in place, the only option would be to take the lengthier and far more costly route of applying for a Deputyship Order.

How Does a Health and Welfare LPA Work?

A Health and Welfare LPA covers, as you might expect, a person's health and general welfare. This means that the named attorney can make decisions about things such as what medical treatment the individual should or shouldn't receive. It also gives them authority to make decisions around their lifestyle and welfare, such as their living arrangements, how they should be cared for and their diet.

When making a Health and Welfare LPA, it's also possible to grant the attorney permission to decide whether life-saving medical treatment should be administered. It's important to note that this permission needs to be expressly stated in the LPA. If it isn't, then a health and welfare attorney would not automatically have authority to make decisions about life-saving treatment.

A Health and Welfare LPA can only come into effect once the individual that it concerns has lost mental capacity, and is therefore unable to make these decisions on their own. Once it has come into effect, the attorney will need proof of their identity in order to show that they are the named attorney.

How Does a Property and Financial Affairs LPA Work?

A Property and Financial Affairs LPA can cover any property, money or other assets that the individual owns in England or Wales. The person making the LPA can decide how much control over their financial affairs they would like their attorney to have.

This means that the way in which a Property and Financial Affairs LPA works will depend on what the LPA says. The attorney could be given permission to withdraw money from one specific bank account, or they could be given authority to sell or transfer a property, for example. Or a property and financial affairs attorney could be given full authority to make all financial decisions. It's entirely up to the individual concerned when it comes to the level of permission to grant their attorney.

A Property and Financial Affairs LPA can come into effect when the person who made it loses mental capacity, or alternatively it could come into effect as soon as it is registered. For example, it could be that someone with limited mobility who has mental capacity, wants their attorney to be able to go to the bank for them, or someone living abroad with assets in England or Wales may want their attorney to have the authority to manage these for them.

Once a Property and Financial Affairs LPA has come into effect, then the attorney will need to show identification to prove that they have the necessary legal authority. For accessing bank accounts and other financial assets, it's likely that an attorney would be asked to provide two separate forms of ID.

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