Should You Put A Lasting Power Of Attorney In Place?
Lasting Power of Attorney is a formal legal document that you may wish to consider putting in place as you get older. It allows you to transfer the power of decision making or the ability to act on your behalf, to someone else. This may be because you no longer want to or are no longer able to do so yourself.
You may wish to bring into play a Lasting Power of Attorney if you need someone to take care of your long-term plans. You may have been diagnosed with a critical illness or be suffering from reduced mental capacity. If your mental capacity is reduced, you may be finding it hard to communicate or make decisions when they are needed. You may be unable to understand the decision that you need to make, why it needs to be made or the outcome.
If your memory is failing, you may be OK with making daily decisions but not the larger ones; choosing what food to buy may not be an issue but deciding what to do with your money or your home may require intervention from someone that understands your needs and wants. You may have savings that need to be dealt with or you may need support with making a decision about medical treatment.
What can an LPA be used for?
There are a variety of types of Power of Attorney – Ordinary Power of Attorney, Lasting Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney. An Ordinary Power of Attorney allows people to make financial decisions on your behalf but is only valid while you still have the mental capacity to make your own decisions. Enduring Powers of Attorney were replaced by Lasting Power of Attorneys in October 2007, however, if you made one before then, it should still be valid.
In this article, we are going to focus on Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). There are two sorts; an LPA to cover financial decisions and one to cover decisions relating to health and care.
Lasting Power of Attorney for financial decisions
This can be used while you still have the good mental capacity or you can ask that it only comes into effect if you lose that ability. It will cover such things as:
- Buying/selling your property
- Paying your mortgage
- Investing savings
- Paying bills
- Arranging property maintenance
You don’t have to give the attorney overall power as you can restrict the types of decisions that they can make. The choice is yours. It will be necessary for your chosen attorney to keep records to show how your money is being used. You can ask to see these at any time, providing you with protection. If you wish someone close to you or a solicitor to check these accounts, you can do that too.
Lasting Power of Attorney for healthcare decisions
This will cover any decisions related to health and care and can only be used when your mental capacity diminishes. It will cover such things as:
- Where you will live
- Medical care
- The food you eat
- Who you will communicate with
- Your choice of social activities
If you wish, you can also allow your attorney to make decisions when it comes to life-saving medical treatment.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they are married or in a partnership, their spouse/partner will be able to deal with the bank accounts, financial affairs, pensions and healthcare. However, this is not the case unless you have provided them with an LPA.
Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney
Here are the steps you will need to take:
- Forms can be obtained from the Office of the Public Guardian and these will also include an information pack.
- The form can be filled in online or you can request a hard copy.
- A solicitor will require a fee to assist you filling in the forms should you not want to do it yourself.
- Once completed, your LPA form will need to be signed by a certificate provider. This is someone you know such as a doctor, social worker or solicitor and they will have to confirm that you understand what you are signing and that no pressure has been put on you.
- Your LPA needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and you will have to pay the relevant fee at the time. If you are on low income or certain income related benefits, you may be exempt from paying the fee.
- You must register the LPA while you still have the mental capacity and you should bear in mind that the registration process takes about 9 weeks.
Finally, no-one likes to think of a time when they may be unable to live a normal life, making normal everyday decisions. But, it is wise to look at a “worst case scenario” when you are fit and well so that provisions have been put in place that will reduce the stress and upset if you are unfortunate enough to lose mental capacity.
If you would like more detailed information about Lasting Power of Attorney, please have a look at Age UK for more information.
You may also like to read about the importance of Making a Will so follow this link to our recent article.
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