- Nominate a trusted loved one to look after your financial affairs should you lose mental capacity due to accident or illness (such as dementia)
- Ensure your wishes are adhered to regarding future decisions about your healthcare
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
In 2007 there was a major change in the law relating to Powers of Attorney: As you may or may not know a Power of Attorney is an authorisation to act on someone else’s behalf in a legal or business matter and now after the change, on matters relating to your health and welfare. The person authorising the other to act is called the Donor, and the one authorised to act is the Attorney.
In English law, anyone with mental capacity can grant a Power of Attorney. These can be general (i.e. to do anything which can legally be done by an attorney), or relate to a specific act (e.g. to buy or sell a house).
A normal Power of Attorney however ceases to have effect if the Donor loses capacity. If it is the Donor’s intention for the Power to continue after he or she have lost capacity, then a “Lasting Power of Attorney” (LPA) should be granted. These came into being in 1st October 2007, and replaced the simpler “Enduring Powers of Attorney” (EPA’s) which had previously been used. LPAs were introduced by the government in order to reduce the potential for abuse which was a problem with the EPA system, and also to allow donors to grant attorneys the power to look after their welfare and not just their finances, which had not been possible under the EPA regime.
There are therefore now 2 types of separate LPAs:
- Property and Affairs LPA which allows you to choose someone to make decisions about how to spend your money and the way your property and affairs are managed, and;
- Health & Welfare LPA which allows you to choose someone to make decisions about your healthcare and welfare. This includes decisions to refuse or consent to treatment on your behalf (including life sustaining treatment) and deciding where you live. These decisions can only be taken on your behalf when the LPA is registered and you lack the capacity to make the decisions yourself.
A person given power under an EPA before 1 October 2007 can still use it and apply to have it registered. This person has a duty to apply to register the EPA as soon as they believe that the Donor is becoming or has become mentally incapable of making financial decisions for him or herself.
If you have an unregistered EPA and still have the capacity to make decisions for yourself, you can if you wish now make a Personal Welfare LPA to run alongside it.
Who Should Have One?
Everyone! LPAs are not just for our senior citizens they are for everyone. We never know what is around the corner – accidents can happen to anyone, even the strongest and fittest of us (remember Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident which left him in a coma).
If you are left unable to communicate either temporarily or permanently your family can be left without access to funds and unable to deal with your affairs as you would wish. An LPA is like an insurance policy – it sits there quietly in the background ready to be used if needed. Once done you can forget about it – one less thing to worry about.
How Do I Apply For a LPA?
Step 1: Certificate Provider
Everyone who makes an LPA must have a Certificate Provider who is there to confirm that you understand what you are signing and that you are acting in accordance with your own free will. We will act as the certificate provider and provide you with the necessary advice and guidance either face to face or using Skype
Step 2: Attorneys
We send the forms to your chosen attorneys with guidance for them to sign
Step 3: Registration
We complete the application forms on your behalf and submit them to the Office of the Public Guardian for registration
Step 4: You are Covered
The registered documents are returned to us and either forwarded to you or if you prefer we can keep them safely stored in our fireproof strongroom for future use should the need arise
How much does it cost?
£300 plus VAT for each or £225 plus VAT each if you do both Personal Finance and Health & Welfare LPAs (to oversee the whole process include preparation of your LPA document, acting as your Certificate Provider, obtaining the Attorneys’ signatures and finally completing and submitting the application on your behalf)
There is also a registration fee of £82* for each LPA payable to the Office of the Public Guardian
You can apply for a reduction if you earn less than £12,000. You might also be able to apply for an exemption if you’re on certain benefits, such as Income Support.