A Lasting Power of Attorney or LPA is a legal document giving authority to a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf, should you ever become unable to do this yourself.
We answer some of the most frequently asked questions concerning making and using LPAs.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney appoints someone who can step in to manage your affairs in the event that you lose mental capacity. There are two types of LPA:
- Property and financial affairs LPA; and
- Health and welfare LPA
You can make either or both types of LPA and if you wish, you can choose a different attorney for each one.
Your attorney is required by law to act in your best interests at all times.
Why is it important to make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
If you do not have an LPA in place and you become unable to manage your own affairs, then no-one will be able to deal with matters for you, should you lose the ability to do this yourself. This means that they will not be able to pay bills on your behalf or arrange care. They will need to make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy, which is a longer and more complicated process. It also involves more ongoing supervision than using an LPA.
Who should I choose to be my attorney?
Your attorney must be aged 18 and, in respect of a property and financial affairs LPA, cannot be bankrupt. You should choose someone you trust to act in your best interests and who you believe will have the ability to take on the role when the time comes. This means that it may be better to choose someone younger than you.
They should be both reliable and capable of dealing with financial matters. They will also need to have enough free hours to deal with your affairs, which could be time-consuming. If you do not have anyone who you believe is suitable or who is willing to act on your behalf, you can appoint a professional, such as a solicitor. They will charge for their services.
Can I have more than one attorney?
There is no limit to the number of attorneys you can appoint, but for practical reasons, people usually appoint one or two. You can also name a replacement attorney in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to act when the time comes.
If you appoint more than one attorney, you can require them to agree on every decision together, so that they cannot act independently. This is known as acting jointly. Alternatively, you can give each attorney the authority to take decisions independently of the other attorney. This can make life easier for your attorneys and is known as acting jointly and severally. Ideally, your attorneys will still work closely together to deal with your affairs, but allowing them to sign documents individually will make the job less difficult.
What decisions can an attorney make on my behalf?
Under a property and financial affairs LPA, the decisions your attorney can make include the following:
- Sale of your home
- Payment of your bills
- Management of your bank account
- Investing your money
A property and financial affairs LPA can be used as soon as it has been signed and while you still have capacity. This can be helpful if you need someone to sign documents while you are away or in hospital or if you find it difficult to get to the bank.
Under a health and welfare LPA, the decisions your attorney can take include:
- Arranging your care
- Deciding what your daily routine will be
- Deciding who you will see
- What medical treatment you will receive
Unlike a property and financial affairs LPA, a health and welfare LPA can only be used once you can no longer make decisions yourself.
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