When will you be asked the question?
There’s a good chance that, at some point in your life, you’ll be asked a question about whether you have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place. For thousands of people each year, this question comes as a surprise, because most have never heard of it before, let alone have one in place.
The circumstances in which you will be asked varies considerably depending upon what is happening at that point in your life.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are frequently misunderstood so getting to grips now with what they are all about is likely to be of benefit to you in the future. Like I said, the chances are that you’ll be asked about them at some point in your life and the answer you give could have a massive impact on you and your loved ones.
In what circumstances will I be asked about an LPA?
The first circumstance is typically when you make a Will. If you are using a professional Will writing service, like Co-op Legal Services, then we’ll normally discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney with you to ensure that you’re aware of what they are and their importance; so you can decide whether you want to put an LPA in place.
The second circumstance is where you are faced with the prospect of having to deal with the affairs of a loved one, perhaps a spouse, parent or grandparent and you are being asked whether they have put an LPA in place.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
It’s a legal document that enables you to choose another person (usually a loved one or someone you trust) to be able to make decisions on your behalf. This person is called your ‘Attorney’.
There are two types of LPA available, one gives authority to make decisions about your property and finances; the other is to make decisions about your health and welfare.
Why would I want someone else to make decisions for me?
Because there may come a time in the future when you suffer an accident or ill health and as a result become unable to manage your affairs or make decisions for yourself.
What type of things would need to be dealt with on my behalf?
All sorts of things, someone is going to need the legal authority to manage your bank accounts, pay your bills, look after your house or sell it, make decisions about your welfare, routine and the type of medical treatment you receive.
Can’t my family just make these decisions at the time?
No, there’s no automatic legal right for your family to deal with these matters, they need to have the legal authority to manage your affairs. Many people find this hard to believe – you may too. But it’s true, just go and ask your bank if you don’t believe me!
So can my family make a LPA for me if it’s needed?
No, only you can make an LPA appointing the people you want to have authority to deal with matters on your behalf.
What would my family do I didn’t have an LPA?
They would most likely do what thousands of families do each year, firstly they would try to deal with your affairs and then be told by your bank or other institution that there needs to be an LPA in place. Then, they’d try to put an LPA in place for you, only to be informed that they can’t as you were the only one who could’ve done it, but now it’s too late.
Then what would happen?
Your family would be informed that the only way to get control over your affairs is with the approval of the Court and someone would need to apply to the Court and seek its permission to be appointed as your ‘deputy’. This appointment can take a long time (approximately 6 months), involves significant paperwork, requires ongoing supervision by the Court and can cost thousands of pounds in legal and Court fees.
How long does it take for someone to be able to act under an LPA?
As soon as the LPA is put in place, so if you suffer an accident, you have someone you trust to immediately step in and make decisions in your best interests.
Is getting an LPA a long and complex process?
If you use a professional legal service like the Co-op, it should be really straightforward because we’re here to discuss your circumstances, explain your options and ultimately prepare everything so all you need to do is arrange for the documentation to be signed.
How much does it cost?
There are potentially two costs to be aware of.
The first is in relation to any professional fees if you decide that you want advice and have it all prepared on your behalf for convenience and peace of mind.
The second cost is a one-off fee of £82 to register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Your LPA will not be legally valid unless it has been registered with OPG.
This fee is payable to the OPG regardless of whether you use a professional LPA service or do everything yourself. It is possible for the OPG to waive or reduce this fee but you would need to be able to prove that your gross income was less than £12,000 per year or were in receipt of certain means tested benefits.
How do I start getting an LPA for myself?
Call our Lasting Power of Attorney writers on 03306069591 and or you can start your LPA online and we will call you.
What if my parents want to appoint me as their Attorney?
You should discuss it with them and probably show them this article too. If they agree that it’s a sensible thing to do, then they can decide what steps to take next to put LPAs in place for themselves. You cannot do it for them, it must be their decision and they need to decide before it’s too late.
Call our Lasting Power of Attorney team on 03306069591 or contact us online and we will call you.