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What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Have you considered who would make decisions on your behalf in the event that you were unable to because of loss of physical or mental capacity, either temporarily or in the long term? It is a common mistake to assume that your decision making will automatically pass to your next of kin. However, this is not always the case. We go through exactly what a Lasting Power of Attorney is and how it can protect you and your loved ones.

 It is crucial to ensure that the proper legally binding arrangements are put in place prior to loss of capacity so that the people that you trust can act for you in such circumstances. This is achieved by setting up what is known as a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

THE BASICS

There are 2 types of LPA:

  1. Health and Welfare
  2. Property and Financial Affairs

You can choose to make both types of LPA, or just one. It is also possible for you to name different people to deal with your health and welfare matters to those named to deal with your property and financial affairs, if appropriate.

WHO CAN MAKE AN LPA?

You can make an LPA provided that:

  1. You are 18 or over; and
  2. You have the required mental capacity at the time of making your LPA. Essentially, this is the ability to demonstrate that you understand what the LPA does and the scope of authority it gives without any pressure or influence from a third party being applied.

When making an LPA you are referred to as the 'Donor' and the person that you appoint to act on your behalf is referred to as the 'Attorney'.

You do not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen to make an LPA. 

​WHO CAN BE MY ATTORNEY?

Most people can be named as an Attorney and many choose to name their spouse or other close relatives or friends. In some cases, a professional, such as a solicitor is named.

An Attorney must be aged 18 or over and also have mental capacity.

Your Attorney does not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen.

You can choose one or more people to be your Attorney but if you appoint more than one Attorney, you must decide whether they will be able to make decisions separately or always have to make decisions together. It is also possible to appoint other people to replace your Attorney if at some point they cannot act on your behalf anymore. These are known as 'Replacement Attorneys'.

WHAT WOULD BE COVERED BY A WEALTH AND WELFARE LPA?

A Health & Welfare LPA allows your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf when it comes to day to day matters concerning your personal wellbeing.

The sort of decisions that your Attorney might be making under a Health & Welfare LPA include:

  • Where you should live and who you should live with
  • Day-to-day care, including diet and dress
  • Who you may have contact with
  • Consenting to or refusing medical examination and treatment on your behalf
  • Arrangements for you to be given medical, dental or optical treatment
  • Assessments for and provision of community care services
  • Whether you should take part in social activities, leisure activities, education or training
  • Your personal correspondence and papers
  • Rights of access to personal information about you
  • Complaints about your care or treatment

Having a Health & Welfare LPA is particularly important if you would prefer someone who is not your legal next of kin to make these decisions on your behalf as, ordinarily, they are unlikely to be consulted. 

WHAT WOULD BE COVERED BY A PROPERTY AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS LPA?

A Property & Financial Affairs LPA allows your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf about money and property.

The sort of decisions that your Attorney might be making under a Property & Financial Affairs LPA include:

  • Managing a bank or building society account
  • Setting up direct debits and standing orders
  • Paying bills
  • Collecting income, benefits or a pension
  • Selling your home
  • Buying property
  • Renting property
  • Carrying out works or repairs to your property

WHEN CAN AN LPA BE USED?

An LPA can only be used after it has been registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The OPG protects people in England and Wales who may not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions for themselves. The OPG is responsible for the registration of LPAs.

Your Attorney under a Health & Welfare LPA can only make personal welfare decisions under a registered LPA when you when you no longer have the capacity to state those views yourself.

In comparison, your Attorney under a Property & Financial Affairs LPA can make decisions on your behalf immediately once the LPA has been registered at the OPG whether you lack capacity or not unless you have restricted when they can act in the LPA. 

WHY SHOULD I MAKE A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY?

If you do not sign an LPA whilst you have the mental capacity to do so your family or friends may be forced to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy. This is extremely costly and time-consuming. If there are no family members or friends able to make such an application on your behalf, decisions regarding your property, financial affairs and personal welfare may be made by a Court appointed Deputy.

Without an LPA, decisions of a personal and financial nature could be made by a third party who has no or little knowledge of your wishes. This could, for example, result in actions being taken that you may not have wanted.

Having an LPA in place gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident, physical ill health or mental illness that makes everyday routines and decision making difficult, stressful and in some cases impossible. 

MORE INFORMATION 

​If you are an attorney or deputy appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney and would like further advice relating to the new guidelines on Gifts, Pinney Talfourd are here to help. We have an experienced and dedicated team of specialist solicitors based in our offices across Essex and London. We have evening and weekend appointments available for clients that find it difficult to arrange meetings during working hours.



 
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