What is an LPA?
A Lasting Power of Attorney, or LPA's as they are known, are the legal documents that allow you to appoint people you trust to help make decisions with you (if you still have mental capacity) or on your behalf should you lose capacity temporarily or permanently in the future.
LPA's are completely separate to your Will, however most people put them in place at the same time which is highly recommended.
If you delay putting an LPA in place and lose capacity, this will no longer be an option. If you start losing capacity it may not be possible to have an LPA unless it can be established you have 'sufficient capacity' which may incur additional medical assessment costs.
Once it is established that you have lost capacity you would need to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship.
A Deputyship is similar to a Lasting Power of Attorney but is granted by the Courts. If there are no relatives prepared to take on the role, the Courts will appoint a professional for you. This will be expensive, time consuming and complicated compared to an LPA and often takes many months to progress.
THE COST OF DELAY WILL BE DEVASTATING SHOULD YOU LEAVE IT TOO LATE.
Why is an LPA so important?
In the past you may have asked your family to look after you and your affairs, often without any legal authority to do so. They may have dealt with your bank accounts, doctors appointments, pensions, benefits and utility providers without any problems.
This is now no longer the case!
With the introduction of GDPR and the sharing of personal data, your family will no longer be able to easily order prescriptions, book medical appointments, ring for test results or discuss anything personal unless the correct authority is in place.
Banks may cancel an agreement that has been in place for years, allowing someone to help you with your day to day transactions. These agreements are often known as a third party mandate. Banks will no longer take any new applications and if you lose capacity and have this type of agreement in place, the Bank will cancel it immediately, leaving no one to look after you.
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, will give you the peace of mind that someone you trust can look after your finances and property as well as make decisions about your health and welfare, when you can't.
If you have mental capacity and are able to speak for yourself, your attorneys CANNOT use your health and welfare LPA, so can never make decisions without your consent.
Your Property and Finance LPA can be used straight away, once registered, even if you still have mental capacity but only with your full authority. You can include legally binding instructions together with general preferences that your attorneys have to follow. Your LPA should reflect your wishes so that the things that matter to you will be taken care of.
Thought should be given when drafting instructions for your attorneys as these are legally binding (always seek advice)
You can only put an LPA in place whilst you are capable of understanding the nature and effect of doing so. You have to have the required legal mental capacity, so if you start to lose mental capacity, you cannot make an LPA and no one can do so on your behalf. In this unfortunate scenario, only the Court of Protection can appoint someone and they are called a Deputy.
Most people don’t realise their 'next of kin', spouse or civil partner has no legal right to manage their affairs without an LPA.
*WARNING* If you have a joint bank account and one party loses mental capacity, the Banks will freeze the whole account until it is established a valid arrangement is in place. If there is no LPA in place prior, the only option is to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship. Typically this takes 8 - 14 months and will cost significantly more than an LPA. You may also be required to attend the Court in London.
One solution for couples is to ‘Mirror’ (make identical) their Lasting Powers of Attorney. This would allow them to appoint each other as attorneys to help make decisions about each other’s financial affairs if they lose capacity, work away from home or simply don't have the time to look after their finances. They are also best placed to deal with the Health and Welfare for each other, again should either lose capacity in the future.
A couple choosing all 4 LPA's (most popular) will receive the biggest saving and if this is right for you, will ensure you have peace of mind knowing you can look after each other in later life.
If you are single, you may choose a single LPA depending upon your own personal situation. We offer both Lasting Powers of Attorney at a significantly lower price compared with just one, however, both LPA's may not be right for you.
If you own a business and require a business LPA we can arrange this with the legal clauses and restrictions to enable your business to continue if you are unable to be there, either permanently or during a period of illness.
If you are unsure about the mental capacity of the applicant, we offer an assessment service to establish the ability of the applicant to instruct us. This service is carried out by fully trained healthcare professionals who produce a report which will enable us to make the application. This service is at an additional cost. We cover the whole of England and Wales.
*All LPA’s have a registration fee to the Office of the Public Guardian, currently set at £82 per LPA. These fees can be LESS if you are on low income or FREE if you are in receipt of some means-tested benefits.
Find out more about the different types of LPA here
For any Lasting Power of Attorney requirements, please contact one of our friendly team today.