What is a Lasting Power of Attorney? The LPA is a legal document that enables you to appoint a trusted representative(s) known as Attorney(s), to oversee your finances or personal welfare. Dealing with money and welfare matters in old age or ill health can be difficult and worrying - perhaps even impossible. Although a friend or family member could apply to the court to be appointed a “Deputy” to handle your affairs, this can be a lengthy and costly process. The simplest solution is for you (the Donor) to appoint one or more Attorneys to manage your affairs on your behalf if you become unable to do so.
Are there different types of LPA?
Yes, there are two different types:
Property and Financial Affairs LPA which allows your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your property and affairs, including paying your bills, collecting your income and benefits or selling your house. These decisions are subject to any restrictions or conditions you might wish to stipulate. It does not allow your Attorney to make decisions about your personal welfare.
Health and Welfare LPA which allows your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your personal welfare and can include whether to give or refuse consent to medical treatment on your behalf or even deciding where you live. These decisions can only be taken on your behalf when you lack the capacity to make them yourself, for example if you are ill, unconscious or because of the onset of a condition such as dementia. It does not allow your Attorney to make decisions about your property and affairs.
Who might need an LPA? Most of us will be fortunate enough to live long lives, but we may not always be able to manage our own affairs. If you were to suffer significant physical or mental incapacity, an LPA could make your life much easier and less stressful for you and your loved ones, as well as protecting your interests. An LPA is a little like an insurance policy, you hope that you will never need it, but if you do - it’s invaluable.
How do I make an LPA? The LPA is an official form that must be completed and signed by the Donor and Attorneys in the presence of a witness. It also needs to be certified and must be registered with the court before it can be used.
What can my Attorney do? You can give your Attorney general authority to manage all your finances, including paying your bills, signing cheques, dealing with your bank, and buying or selling property and making decisions on medical treatment. However, you can restrict your Attorney’s powers if you wish. For example, you may want to insist that they obtain medical evidence before they can use their powers, or require them to account for their actions annually to a solicitor or relative.
When do my Attorney’s powers become effective? Once a Property and Affairs LPA is signed, you can continue to handle your own financial affairs. If you prefer your Attorney to help you with them, then the LPA must be registered. However, once an Attorney believes that you are, or are becoming mentally incapable, they must register the LPA in order to take full control of your financial affairs.
A Health and Welfare LPA must also be registered before it can be used, but decisions can only be made on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself.
What if I want to cancel the LPA? Until such time as it is registered, you can always destroy your LPA. However, once the LPA is registered it needs the courts permission to be changed or cancelled.
What happens when I die? When you die, the LPA is no longer valid and the powers of your Attorney(s) end.
Can Attorneys charge for their services? Professional Attorneys are entitled to charge for their work. If you appoint a friend or family member as Attorney, then they may claim reasonable out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally you can make provisions for your friends or family members who act as attorneys to be paid.
Who can advise an Attorney about their role? Detailed advice and guidance is available from The Office of the Public Guardian.