Lasting Power of Attorney – should I have one and how do I do it?

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document by which you appoint one or more people ( up to four) to step in and look after your affairs if you lose legal capacity

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney and you can make either or both types:

  • An LPA for Financial Decisions enables attorneys to run your bank accounts, manage your savings and investments, sell your property and pay your bills.
  • An LPA for Health & Care Decisions enables attorneys to make decisions about your care, medical treatment, where you should live and your daily routine.

Why do I need to have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Nobody likes to think that a time may come when they are unable to make their own decisions, perhaps because of a stroke, accident, Alzheimer’s or other disease or dementia. However, unless you have the right arrangements in place, nobody has an automatic right to take control of your affairs if you are unwell – not even your spouse. You need to give the people you choose, the legal authority to act on your behalf.

It is therefore essential to make arrangements while you are well in case you are affected in the future. The best way of doing this is to make Lasting Power of Attorney.

What happens if I do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you do not make a Lasting Power of Attorney and you then lose capacity, the Court of Protection will need to appoint a Deputy to manage your affairs. This will be a person chosen by the Court not by you. The process takes several months, costs can be significant  and in the meantime, nobody can access your funds to pay bills, care fees or to ensure that your needs are met.

In addition, the Deputy must complete annual returns and pay an annual fee from your funds to the Court. This involves time and effort as well as additional costs.

Who should I appoint to be my Attorneys?

You can appoint up to four people who you know and trust to act as your attorneys. You should speak to them first to discuss your plans.

When should I prepare my Lasting Power of Attorney?

We advise that everyone over the age of 18 should have them – and a valid will – in place – it is never too early. You should not leave it until you are older as an accident or illness could strike at any time.

What happens while I am fit and well?

A Lasting Power of Attorney does not have to be used immediately and you can run your own affairs and make your own decisions for as long as possible. It is simply stored in a safe place in case it is needed in the future.

Do I need to use a solicitor to prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney?

It is now possible to prepare your own Lasting Powers of Attorney online and you may wonder: what is the point in paying a solicitor to prepare your Lasting Power of Attorney? The answer is that the forms can appear deceptively simple and you may make mistakes without realising it.

What could go wrong if I try and do this myself?

Here are just three of many complexities that exist:

  • you can appoint your attorneys to act jointly meaning they must do everything together. However, you may not be aware that if one of your joint attorneys dies, the whole Lasting Power of Attorney becomes invalid and the survivor cannot act alone.
  • people will often try to write restrictions into their Lasting Power of Attorney not appreciating that some forms of wording are not permitted. Each month, over one hundred invalid restrictions have to be “severed” by the Court of Protection leading to significant delay, frustration and potentially additional costs.
  • Without instructing a solicitor, you will have to find someone else who meets the criteria to complete the Certificate to Confirm Understanding. This forms an essential part of the Lasting Powers of Attorney.

If you make errors, the Office of the Public Guardian will not give you the opportunity to correct them. They will keep your registration fee of £82 and tell you to start all over again.

At the time of writing, the backlog within the registration process is upwards of 20 weeks and during that time the document is not effective. You would be left in limbo without anyone being able to access money on your behalf if you lost capacity during that time.

Don’t delay – call us now on 01727 869293 to discuss how we can help you put Lasting Powers of Attorney in place