A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint an attorney to deal with your affairs once you are no longer capable of doing so yourself.
If you do not have an LPA, then your family will have to apply for a Deputyship Order to allow someone to help you.
There are two types of LPA: one for dealing with your property and financial affairs and one for your health and welfare.
You can choose a different attorney for each LPA if you wish, and the document will not come into effect until it is registered, allowing you to execute it well before it is needed.
If you don’t have an LPA
If you become unable to manage your affairs and you have not executed an LPA, then your family will need to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order to appoint a deputy to act on your behalf.
This application can take several months to process and will need supporting evidence, such as a medical assessment.
It is also an expensive procedure, with court application and hearing fees of several hundred pounds each, medical assessment fees and, if a professional deputy is appointed, their ongoing charges. There will also be legal expenses if your family need help navigating the process.
In contrast, the cost of executing an LPA is relatively low, and the registration fee is currently £82.
Why an LPA is the best solution
As well as being a difficult, expensive and time-consuming process to appoint a deputy, it can mean that for a time no-one is able to help you with your affairs.
If you have become unable to deal with them yourself, there may be several months when your finances cannot be managed. This can be a big strain on those trying to help you, particularly if bills need to be paid or services ordered.
With regard to your health and welfare, the Court of Protection prefers not to appoint a deputy to act in respect of all of an individual’s health and welfare needs. The court will rule on single issues if agreement cannot be reached, but generally a collaborative approach is preferred, with family and healthcare professionals acting together.
Therefore if you want to choose someone to act for you in health and welfare matters, you should execute an LPA in their favour. It will not be used until and unless you become unable to make your own decisions.
If you plan in advance and execute LPAs, you also have the option of appointing more than one attorney and including back-ups in case they are unable to take on the role. You can talk things through in advance with them and explain what you would like them to do for you.