Lasting Powers of Attorney: Why You Should Have One
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are important legal documents and something we discuss with all of our clients, often at the same time as discussing Wills. We have advised many people in Ormskirk and the surrounding areas about Lasting Powers of Attorney since they were introduced in 2007.
What are the benefits of Lasting Powers of Attorney?
Fundamentally, they enable you to appoint someone, or more than one person, to make certain decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them for yourself in the future, otherwise known as ‘lacking mental capacity’.
The relevant legislation governing Lasting Powers of Attorney is the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the government department responsible for dealing with Lasting Powers of Attorney is the Office of the Public Guardian.
What sort of decisions can be covered by an LPA?
These might be decisions concerning your finances and/or your health and welfare.
Quite often, when putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney, you are thinking of things like developing dementia or Alzheimer’s in future but they can be used in a variety of other circumstances as well.
In relation to health and welfare decisions, having a Lasting Power of Attorney can ensure that your attorneys, whoever you decide to appoint, have the power to fulfil any medical wishes that you may have and ensure that you are not given any treatment that you do not want to receive. In many ways, Lasting Powers of Attorney have replaced ‘Living Wills’ for decisions regarding medical treatment.
What different types of LPA are available?
There are two different types of Lasting Powers of Attorney; the ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ Lasting Power of Attorney and the ‘Health and Welfare’ Lasting Power of Attorney. Each type covers different decisions and you can choose to apply for both or just one of these.
Many people think the the financial Lasting Power of Attorney is the most important, but in our opinion both are equally important and it is important to put both in place.
A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney covers decisions about your finances and property and can include; paying your household bills, collecting your income and benefits or selling your house if necessary. This could be used even if you still have mental capacity to deal with these things yourself, for example if you were living abroad or in hospital.
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney enables your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf such as where you live, or day to day care such as diet and clothing. This type of Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used once you have lost mental capacity.
How do you register Lasting Powers of Attorney?
Both types of Lasting Power of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used by your attorneys. We generally advise all our clients to register the Lasting Powers of Attorney as soon as they have been signed by all parties rather than leaving it until they are needed, we have registered many Lasting Powers of Attorney for the people of Ormskirk, Southport and the surrounding areas.
The primary reason for this is that the registration process can take quite a long time to complete and if the Lasting Powers of Attorney need to be used they probably need to be used quickly and you would not want your attorneys having to wait for the registration to be completed at what is likely to be an already stressful time for you and them.
Nobody likes to think about growing old and possibly being unable to manage their own finances and welfare. However, a Lasting Power of Attorney can be likened to an insurance policy. You insure your house, your car, your life – this is simply like taking out an insurance policy to ensure someone you trust will be able to make decisions for you if you are not able.
How should I move forward with putting an LPA in place?
If you do lose the capacity to manage your own finances and welfare in future and you have not put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney, then your family will likely have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy.
This, in many ways, is similar to being an attorney, however it is far more expensive than putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney, it takes longer and there is far more paperwork for your Deputy to deal with. It is best avoided if possible.
If you would like to put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney, then call our offices on 01695 574 201 (Ormskirk) or 01704 504 381 (Southport) to speak to one of our experienced solicitors. Alternatively, please email us by clicking here.