When you hear talk about Wills, you often next hear talk about LPAs as well – Lasting Powers of Attorney. It’s not so much that they go hand in glove, it’s just that the rationale for having a Will actually points towards the need to have LPAs in place too. So we thought it would be a good idea to give you some information on these useful, and very important, legal documents to complement our article on why it’s important to have a Will (read here).
But what is an LPA?
“A lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lack mental capacity at some time in the future or no longer wish to make decisions for yourself.” – Age UK
There are actually two types of LPA. Both fulfil different roles and are not interchangeable. They are:
- An LPA for financial decisions
This type of Lasting Power of Attorney can be used while you still have mental capacity. An attorney, a person to whom you give permission to make decisions on your behalf, can generally do so on things such as:
- Buying and selling property
- Paying the mortgage
- Investing money
- Paying bills
- Arranging repairs to property
- An LPA for health and care decisions
A Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care decisions covers healthcare and personal welfare. It’s important to note that it can only be used once a person has lost mental capacity. A nominated attorney can generally make decisions about things such as:
- Where you should live
- What medical care you should receive
- What you should eat
- Who you should have contact with
- What kind of social activities you should take part in
What can I specify in an LPA?
An LPA is a powerful document that enables you to retain control over your life. You can specify exactly what decisions your nominated attorney(s) can make. So you can allow them to make all decisions on your behalf, or restrict them to only certain types of decision. Thinking these things through carefully now, therefore, is worth doing before it’s too late.
One thing to bear in mind is that if you are setting up an LPA for financial decisions, the person you nominate must keep accounts. You can request regular reports on expenditure and income. And if you then lose mental capacity, you can specify that these reports are sent to your solicitor or a family member instead. They must also make sure their money is kept separate from your money. So check that this is possible with them in advance.
When is a lasting power of attorney valid?
IMPORTANT NOTE: An LPA is only valid if:
- You had the mental capacity to set it up when it was set up
- You were not put under any pressure to create it
To ensure this, the LPA has to be signed by a certificate provider. When a certificate provider signs the document, they are confirming that you understand what the LPA contains and that you haven’t been put under any pressure to sign it. They are typically someone you know well, but can also be a professional person, such as a doctor, social worker or solicitor.
Once these criteria have been met, the LPA must then be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used.
A final word…
As you can see, LPAs are important documents that facilitate critical decisions being made on your behalf if you’re no longer to do that for yourself. For more information on why you should have an LPA, please do read our article here or feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements.