A Power of Attorney is a document which gives another person the legal authority to
manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows the power of attorney to be legally binding even if you lose your mental capacity. In other words, if you are no longer able to make decisions or manage your affairs yourself due to an illness or accident, your attorneys can make those decisions on your behalf.
Making a power of attorney does not mean you give up all of your rights and powers. You can
make a power of attorney at any time while you have mental capacity to do so.
There are two types of LPA you can make:
Property and Affairs
Many people make an LPA so that their chosen relatives or friends can help them to manage their affairs if they become unwell or would simply like someone to deal with things for them. In terms of the Property and Affairs LPA, you can direct your attorneys to begin acting when you want them to, or they can start helping if you lose mental capacity and are unable to make decisions or deal with your affairs yourself.
This type of LPA will allow your attorneys to help you manage your money, property and finances. It would let them pay your bills or transfer and invest your money for you. It can even give them the power to sell your house if necessary.
Health and Welfare
This LPA will allow your attorneys to make decisions about health and care which may include what medical treatment you receive and where you live. They will only be able to make these decisions for you if you are unable to make the decisions yourself.
Other points to note
An LPA is not the same as a Will. Your Will only has legal power when you die. You need an LPA in order for your attorneys to help you manage your affairs during your lifetime. While you are alive, an executor named in your Will has no power to manage your affairs. An attorney under an LPA does not have the power to change or cancel your Will. Your legal advisor will discuss this with you during the meeting to help you decide how to appoint attorneys and whether you need to include any additional instructions or guidance to your attorneys.
Many people leave it until the last minute to make an LPA (i.e. when they are already starting to struggle with managing their affairs). The problem is that an LPA cannot be used until it has been Registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Currently the waiting time for registering an LPA with the OPG is 20-26 weeks and there is no set procedure for dealing with urgent applications. This wait is on top of the time that it takes to make the LPA. Sadly, for those who have a terminal diagnosis or who have had a sudden and unexpected health deterioration, the wait is too long. The delays can result in their loved ones being unable to manage their affairs or make decisions about finances or health for them.
Our advice is to plan ahead if you can. Make an LPA before you need it, so it is ready to be used in an emergency. If you think a loved one might need an LPA, help them to start the process as soon as possible.
If you would like to speak to someone about making a Lasting Power of Attorney, please contact us.