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Lasting Powers of Attorney

finance legal practical Jul 03, 2019
Few of us are comfortable thinking about our own mortality, let alone talking about it. We might recognise we need to sort out our affairs, but we put it off until, too often, it's too late and our loved ones are left with a legal and financial mess to clean up at a time when they are dealing with grief.
 
This is not my area of expertise, so I have asked Dani King of father and daughter firm, Wellingborough Wills, to write an occasional series of guest blog posts for us. This week, she explains Lasting Powers of Attorney. Over to you, Dani.
 

Perhaps you have heard the term Lasting Powers of Attorney, or LPA, but are unsure what they actually are. Maybe your older relatives have asked you to act as an attorney for them, but you’re not certain what the role entails. Here we will cover what LPAs are, what they are used for and how you can make one. 

What are LPAs?

An LPA is a legal document that nominates someone that you know and trust to look after your affairs when you are no longer able to. Every day we make decisions about our lives. The ability to make these decisions is called mental capacity. People may not be able to make decisions some or all of the time, perhaps because they have dementia, have suffered a brain injury or have had a stroke. 

There are two different types of LPA, one for property and financial affairs and one for health and welfare. It is worth noting that if you appoint someone to manage your financial affairs only, they will not have the right to manage your healthcare needs should the situation arise. You must create both types of LPA even if you choose to nominate the same person to act in both circumstances. You also have the option of appointing different people to act in different ways. 

Property and Financial Affairs

This LPA deals with things like selling your home, paying bills, collecting rent, collecting benefits, paying for your care etc. Without an LPA in place, nobody has the right to access your money or to act for you if you are unable to do this for yourself. 

This LPA can not only be used if you have lost mental capacity but also if you are physically incapacitated too. This can be both on a temporary or permanent basis. Your chosen attorney only needs to act for you for as long as you are not able to do so for yourself, once you recover and are able to manage your own affairs then you can continue to do so. 

Health and Welfare

This LPA deals with only healthcare and medical treatments, including life sustaining treatment should it be required. This might mean consenting to operations, medications, artificial food and drink, and dealing with health care staff. 

They key difference between this and the finance LPA is this one can only be used when you no longer have mental capacity. As long as you are mentally capable of making your own health decisions, then you must do so. 

Why set up Lasting Powers of Attorney?

The most important thing to know about LPAs is that you are only able to set them up whilst you still have capacity to do so. If you wait until they are needed then it is too late, and your family will have to apply to the court of protection in order to act for you instead. This can take years to be approved and can cost thousands of pounds. There are yearly fees to continue the deputyship also.

It is generally cheaper to make Lasting Powers of Attorney whilst you still have capacity than to wait until they are needed and apply for deputyship. 

It’s common to think things like “this doesn’t apply to me, I’m perfectly well” but the danger is that can change all too suddenly, and when you really need them – you’re unable to make them. It is better to do them whilst you are fit and healthy and hope that you never need them, than to not do them and need them later on when it is too late. Having them at the time of need really will make all the difference to you and to your family.

There is no specific age for when you should consider making LPA’s, even young people can suffer a loss of capacity through accidents, so doing them in advance is always recommended no matter how old you are. 

How can you make one?

It is possible to make them yourself, by downloading the forms from the government website. There is an £82 registration fee per document, but reduced rates are available for those on a low income or receiving certain benefits.

You will need someone to act as your certificate provider to state that you have mental capacity at the time of doing the LPAs but there are a number of restrictions on who this can be. 

As these LPAs are very powerful legal documents you may wish to seek professional advice and get some help to complete them, particularly if you have any family issues, or complex assets such as a business or overseas property. You may also want someone to help you to make sure you fully understand each type of LPA: make the right decisions regarding who will act as your attorney, when and how they should act as there are several choices that can be made.

Wellingborough Wills can assist you with your LPAs, ensuring they are completed correctly, that you fully understand the documents and how they can be used, that you have chosen the right attorney’s for you and made the right decision for when and how they should act. They will also act as your certificate provider and help you with registering the documents so that you know they are valid at the time that you need them to be. 

For more information regarding Lasting Powers of Attorney, give the Wellingborough Wills team a call on 01933-213450 or visit their website: wellingboroughwills.com

 
Blog header Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash
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