Lasting Powers of Attorney
In the past few months, I have been getting a number of enquiries asking about ‘Lasting Powers of Attorney’ or ‘LPA’s, so I thought I would devote this month’s column to a basic introduction and explanation for what seems to be of great concern to a lot of people at the moment:
What is an LPA?
An LPA enables you or another person aged 18 or over (the ‘Donor’) to appoint another person (the ‘Donee’ or ‘Attorney’) to act on your behalf and make decisions for you if you lose your mental capacity to do so. This has replaced the ‘Enduring Power of Attorney’, with the main difference being you can now choose to delegate decisions affecting your personal welfare, as well as those concerning property and finance, in two types of LPA:
The ‘Property and Affairs’ LPA can be used to appoint an Attorney to make a range of financial decisions, including the buying and selling of property, operating a bank account, dealing with tax affairs and claiming benefits.
The ‘Personal Welfare’ LPA authorises an Attorney to make decisions about where you should live, medical treatments and day to day care.
Who Should I Appoint?
Your choice of Attorney must be someone who you trust to act in your best interests and has some understanding of what is expected of them. You may like to appoint a family member but do not need to appoint the same Attorney to act on both the Property and Affairs LPA and the Personal Welfare LPA.
If you do not have anyone you can appoint with regard to a Property and Affairs LPA you may like to appoint a professional who understands the legalities and duties behind the document. Since you can appoint more than one Attorney, you may like to appoint a family member together with a professional. It also makes sense to have two Attorneys so that if one dies and the other can continue to act.
What is required?
There are two separate forms for the Property and Affairs LPA and the Personal Welfare LPA. Both forms are divided into three parts: the ‘Donor Statement’, (your details, those of the Attorney and any persons to be notified) a ‘Certificate Provided Statement’ (from an independent third party who is satisfied that everything is correct and lawful) and an ‘Attorneys Statement’ (confirming the Attorney understands his/her duties and obligations.) The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.
Why is it worth having an LPA?
Making an LPA is money well spent because the alternative is costly and time consuming. If no Attorney has been appointed and you become mentally incapable, relatives or some interested person would have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputy to become appointed. This requires a doctor’s certificate, a mass of paperwork, a Hearing to prepare an Order and significant costs in court, administrative and professional fees.
After death, a further charge is levied to wind up the finances along with an annual charge until the final receivers account is issued and all of these costs will be taken out of your resources – effectively removing financial control from your family.