What is a Lasting Powers of Attorney?
The government website defines an LPA as: “a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and can’t make your own decisions (you ‘lack mental capacity’).”
Rosemary Johns, a Partner at Birchall Blackburn Law says: ‘If you lose mental capacity, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to appoint another individual or individuals to make decisions on your behalf in respect of your financial affairs and/or health and welfare. It is a similar to an insurance policy, in that it may never be needed, but it is money well spent in the event that it is.
LPA’s are not just for the elderly; younger people are not immune to becoming mentally incapacitated as a result of an unfortunate accident or unexpected illness, which is why it is important that arrangements are put in place. Once a person has lost mental capacity, it is often too late to make an LPA and an application would have to be made to the Court of Protection instead, which can be a costly and time consuming exercise, adding unwanted stress and worry for your family. The Court may decide to appoint an independent person instead, such as a professional, to make decisions on your behalf, someone you have never met, who may charge for their services, in the event of any family dispute, all of which could be avoided by having LPA’s in place.’
Lasting Powers of Attorney replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney in 2007. (However, EPAs made prior to 2007 are still valid).
Can I make an LPA?
In order to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, you must be 18 years of age or over and have full mental capacity.
Are there different types of LPA?
Yes, there are two different types. Health and Welfare, and Property and Financial Affairs. Both are important and plan for different areas of your life.
Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney enable your appointed attorney(s) to make financial decisions on your behalf. They are able to make decisions in respect of buying and selling your property, paying your bills, managing your bank and savings accounts and investments. Your attorney(s) must always act in your best interests and cannot use your money for their own benefit.
Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney enable your appointed attorney(s) to make decisions about your health and medical care if you become mentally incapacitated. This type of LPA also lets your attorney(s) make decisions about where you should live and life sustaining treatment, and also covers decisions about what you should eat and who should have contact with you. Your Health and Welfare attorney(s) can only make these types of decisions for you if you are deemed to lack capacity to make the particular decision yourself.
Do I need an LPA if I play sport?
If you participate in any extreme sport, such mountain biking or even cycling on roads, there is a higher risk of injury, and you should consider putting an LPA in place. LPA’s make it easier for a person of your choosing to step in and make decisions about your financial circumstances and your health care should you lack mental capacity.
Advantages of an LPA
The advantage of having an LPA is that if an accident should happen and you were left in a position where you were unable to look after yourself financially or in terms of your medical care, you have the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be honoured and respected.
If you do not have an LPA in place and later become mentally incapacitated, your relatives or friends may face long delays and expense in applying to the Court of Protection in order to obtain legal authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding property and finances, and/or health and welfare. As the court application can take several months, no one will be able to access your funds or make decisions on your behalf, which could cause difficulties if you have a mortgage or other financial obligations, which cannot be met until the correct authorities are obtained.
It is much easier to already have things in place ‘just in case’ you were to find yourself in a position to need them.
How much do LPA’s cost?
The legal fees in respect of making a Lasting Power of Attorney can vary from firm to firm. However, it is advisable to seek specialist legal advice in respect of making a Lasting Power of Attorney to avoid problems arising in the future.
The cost of registering a Lasting Power of Attorney was reduced by the government on 1st April 2017 from £110 to £82 in order to make it affordable to more people. Certain exemptions or discounts are available depending on your financial circumstances.
If you would like more information on LPA’s, please visit our website.