Lasting Powers of Attorney

Whilst a Will deals with our assets when we die, a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) deals with what happens should we become unable to make decisions for ourselves. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document allowing you, the donor to appoint people, known as attorneys to make decisions on your behalf. Why a Lasting Power of Attorney is not just for the elderly.

Why Make an LPA?

There are several reasons why you might want to make an LPA.

  • An LPA ensures that the person you want to make decisions for you can do so.  It prevents a stranger or someone you don’t trust from having this power.
  • An LPA can  reduce problems in the future.  It can be time consuming and expensive for family members to gain similar powers should they be needed from the Court of Protection.
  • It can be reassuring to know that you have chosen someone you trust to act in your best interests should you become unable to act on your own behalf.
  • It can prompt discussions with family members about other wishes and decisions you might wish to make for the future.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, Health & Welfare and Property & Financial Affairs.  You can decide whether you take out one or both.

Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

This LPA allows your appointed attorneys to make decisions in regard to the following:

  • daily care – to include food and clothing
  • medical care
  • your place of residence – living at home or being moved to a nursing home
  • life sustaining treatment.

It is important to note that if you already have an Advance Decision in place and you give your attorneys the power to decide on life sustaining treatment, this will override your original Advance Decision.  A Health & Welfare LPA can only be used once you no longer have the mental capacity to make your own decisions, even if it has been registered.

Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

This allows your chosen attorneys to make decisions about:

  • paying bills
  • collecting benefits and income
  • selling your home

A Property & Financial Affairs LPA cannot be used until it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.  The powers of your attorneys can be restricted and you can place conditions on what they can and cannot do.

The Duty of Your Attorneys

Any attorney appointed when making decisions must follow the Mental Capacity act.  They must:

  • act in your best interests
  • consider your wishes both past and present
  • cannot take advantage of your situation to benefit themselves
  • keep your money separate from their own.

If an attorney fails in his duty, the LPA could be cancelled and an investigation carried out by the Office of the Public Guardian and the person prosecuted.

” So, who should consider taking out an LPA?  The main question to ask is “Who would look after my affairs if I am unable to do so? Having the legal right to take on this role is very different to somebody wanting to take on the role.  Your spouse/partner does not have this right automatically.