It is always a good idea to have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in place, as we never know what the future has in store. Whether you’re 22 or 92, it offers peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones, as you will be safe in the knowledge that your finances and welfare have already been taken into account. Many people think LPAs are just for the elderly. However, it is a good idea to put one in place just in case you were ever to be in an accident or suffer with a sudden debilitating illness.
What is an LPA?
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to choose trusted family members, friends or professional people to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to make them. These people are called attorneys.
The advantage of having an LPA is that if you are unable to make decisions about your money or medical care in the future, you have the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be honoured and respected by someone you trust.
There are two types of LPA:
A property and financial affairs LPA. This gives your attorney authority to deal with your property and finances.
A health and welfare LPA. This gives your attorney authority to make health, welfare and care decisions on your behalf, but only when you lack the mental capacity to do so yourself.
This could also extend, if you specifically authorise it, to giving or refusing consent to life sustaining treatment.
If you decide that you would like to set up an LPA, you will need to do so whilst you still have sufficient mental capacity. The property and affairs LPA can be used anytime even whilst you have capacity, whereas a health and welfare can only be used if you are no longer able to make decisions yourself.
Why do I need an LPA?
If you lack capacity to make a financial decision but do not have an LPA in place, then it may be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order. Similar to an LPA, this is an order appointing another person to make decisions on your behalf. However, this can be more costly, time consuming and intrusive and you won’t be able to choose who is appointed to make decisions for you.
Most care and treatment decisions can be made on your behalf without the need for a court application. However, to avoid any potential disputes, you can give your chosen attorney authority to make those decisions on your behalf by making a health and welfare LPA.
Who can be my Certificate Provider and when can they act?
Your attorneys can act once your LPA has been signed by you and the person or people you have chosen to be your attorney(s). It must also be certified by a ‘Certificate Provider’ to ensure that you fully understand the nature and scope of the LPA and are comfortable and fully aware of what it entails. The Certificate Provider can be a friend that you have known for two years or more or a professional. After this, the LPA will need to be registered with the Office of Public Guardian before it can be used.
A property and financial affairs LPA can be used immediately after registration, even if you have full mental capacity. However, the health and welfare power of attorney can only be used in the event you lack mental capacity to make a welfare or medical decision.
How can I find out more information?
If you would like to discuss any of the above or to find out more information, please contact us on 0800 614 722 to speak to one of our specialist legal professionals, or visit our local office.