How to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney
Louise Southwell, Partner in the Wills, Probate & Trusts team at Coodes Solicitors explains how a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) will ensure someone can make decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so in the future.
What is an LPA?
An LPA designates a person, or group of people, to be someone’s attorney, with the authority to make key decisions on their behalf. The attorney will need to step in if the individual has ‘lost capacity’, which means they have been affected by a condition like dementia that prevents them from being able to make these decisions themselves.
There are two types of LPA:
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare would allow your chosen attorney or attorneys to make decisions about issues such as medical treatment, where you live, who you have contact with – in the event that you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs confers authority on an attorney or attorneys to act and make decisions regarding your finances and property both while you have mental capacity and in the event that capacity is lost.
Do I need an LPA?
Property and Financial LPAs can be used while we do have capacity. For example, you could ask your attorney to deal with matters while you are abroad or ill.
However, many of us will not need an LPA until we are in the position of lacking capacity to make important decisions. This often happens in later life, with growing numbers of people experiencing dementia, though many younger people unfortunately find themselves in this situation as the result of an injury, accident or illness. Of course, you should not wait until that eventuality before setting up an LPA. This is something you should have in place, should it be needed in the future. We generally advise people to put LPAs in place when they are putting together their Will.
Who should I choose to be my attorney?
Your attorney must always act in your best interests and wherever possible, allow you to make decisions yourself. Think about whether you have a close friend or family member who could fulfil that role.
Many people choose to appoint more than one attorney. In this case, the individual needs to decide whether the attorneys have to act together in all decisions or whether they can potentially act independently of one another. I would recommend the latter as it provides greater flexibility, particularly if one of the attorneys is unable to act for whatever reason.
How do I set up an LPA?
In order to be used an LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. An experienced solicitor can help you set up and register an LPA and can answer any questions you may have.
What happens if I don’t have an LPA?
Without an LPA in place, it would be up to a family member, friend or professional to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your financial representative. This is a costly and drawn out process with ongoing costs. The person who applies may not necessarily have been the person you would have wanted to look after your affairs.
The reality is that one in three people over the age of 65 will develop some form of dementia, while the charity Headway says that someone goes into hospital every 90 seconds with an acquired brain injury. These statistics show that unfortunately many of us will need someone to act on our behalf at some point in the future.
For advice on any aspect on Lasting Power of Attorney please contact Louise Southwell on 0800 328 3282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.