Why Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

23 December 2015

Many of us spend tens of thousands of pounds on insurance throughout our lifetimes to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but few of us think about spending as little as £270 to protect ourselves or a loved one when we get older.

Protecting yourself by making a Lasting Power of Attorney is really important for a number of different reasons. As you, or someone you love, gets older they may find that they don't want to deal with the day to day issues with their finances, pension or property. Before reaching this point in your life, it is worth discussing what a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is and how it can help you.

In England and Wales there are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney – the first is property and financial affairs and the second is health and welfare; and they both have different functions.

The first type of LPA, for property and financial affairs can be implemented whilst you still have capacity and allows the person who you appoint as your Attorney to potentially have authority to deal with your finances, access to your bank account, any investments and even to sell your property on your behalf if that should become necessary.

The second type of LPA is for health and welfare. This Lasting Power of Attorney allows your Attorney to decide what treatment you should receive and any details you want to include about your day to day living arrangements such where you live, what food you eat and even what clothes you wear. This Lasting Power of Attorney can only be made whilst you have capacity but will not come into force until you have reached a time when you lack capacity to make your own decisions about your care, treatment and welfare.

This is a serious responsibility for the Attorney, and it is vital when you make your Lasting Power of Attorney that you choose someone who you feel comfortable with and that you trust. You may want to consider appointing more than one Attorney to ensure that the responsibility is spread and there is some accountability between them.

In addition, you can appoint a replacement Attorney. A replacement Attorney will also have to be appointed if the existing one dies, lacks capacity, revokes their attorneyship or becomes bankrupt.

When making your Lasting Power of Attorney, you can choose to restrict the powers of your Attorney and specify how you want them to act. The Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to specify whether your Attorney can refuse life sustaining treatment on your behalf; so consider this question and its implications very carefully.

Getting good advice about a Lasting Power of Attorney is crucial, this advice should cover whether to register the LPA immediately or wait, ensuring that you've understood your options and, of course, having the Lasting Power of Attorney drafted properly.

Whilst you can do this yourself, many prefer to use a Solicitor for peace of mind that everything is done properly. In order to activate the Lasting Power of Attorney it's necessary to register the LPAs with the Office of the Public Guardian. They currently charge a Court fee of £82 per Lasting Power of Attorney that is being registered. If there are errors or omissions in the Lasting Power of Attorney or the application, then you may be required to pay an additional fee when you resubmit it. Furthermore, if you write something into your Lasting Power of Attorney that is not reasonable or acceptable, then it could be rejected.

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