What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
A Lasting Power of Attorney, also commonly known as an LPA, is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people (known as the attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapable of doing so.
An LPA is a huge responsibility, as you are essentially leaving someone else in charge of your personal affairs – so it’s important you appoint someone you know and trust as your LPA.
The main reason why people appoint an LPA is due to illnesses such as dementia and strokes – 20% of people aged 85 to 89 die from dementia and 152,000 strokes occur in the UK every year.
LPAs were commonly known as EPAs (Enduring Power of Attorney) up until October 2007. It’s important to note that any EPAs made prior to this date are still valid, so you don’t need to make any adjustments to your current documents.
How many types of LPAs are there?
LPAs are split into two parts;
- Health and welfare
- Property and financial affairs
It’s possible to just have one of the above, but it’s common practice to have both types of LPA in place.
Why do people set up LPAs?
Having an LPA gives you peace of mind that the decisions being made for you will be done in your best interests when you are unable to make them yourself, by someone you know and trust. It can be unsettling knowing that in the absence of an LPA, your personal affairs could be in the hands of someone you haven’t approved.
What can you include on your LPA?
You can include a number of things on your LPA and everyone’s LPA will be slightly different as they are incredibly personal and specific.
Some examples of things you can include are:
- A request to continue giving to a certain charity
- Access to your will
- Care home preferences
- A request to be taken out for fresh air and exercise everyday
- For a certain financial adviser to be used
- How you wish to be dressed
A really important aspect of an LPA is details surrounding life sustaining treatment and whether this is something you would favour in the event of an illness reaching a critical stage.
Who should you make your power of attorney?
Your power of attorney needs to most importantly be someone you trust implicitly, but legally they must be aged 18 or over, of sound mind and they must not be bankrupt.
What are the first steps when organising your power of attorney?
Once you’ve decided on your power of attorney and you’ve contacted a solicitor to begin the process, you will begin the paperwork. The LPA process can be quite complex and there are a lot of documents involved, so it’s important you seek specialist advice to ensure everything is handled as it should be.
In addition to an attorney, you will also need to have an independent provider. This needs to be someone you have known for two years and they can’t be associated with your attorney, often people choose a friend or neighbour. This personal will be signing to say you are of a sound mind and not under any influence when making your power of attorney.
To make an LPA, you need to be 18 and of a sound mind. If you aren’t deemed as mentally fit to assign a power of attorney, your family will need to apply to the court of protection for a deputyship order (it’s worth noting this is an incredibly expensive and lengthy process).
The documents are then sent to the Office of the Public Guardian, who then write to the attorney to ensure they accept the position. Once all the fees are paid, your documents then need to be kept safe.
At this stage, you as the donor can register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian or you can decide to wait and your attorney will register your LPA when they deem you no longer mentally sound enough to make your own decisions.
How long does the LPA process take?
The length of the process is dependent on the level of detail you put into your LPA.
Once you have filled out your documents and sent them off to the Office of the Public Guardian, they can take a few weeks to be approved, but in general, the process doesn’t take an overly long time.
How much does an LPA cost?
The Office of the Public Guardian charges a fee of £82 per power (health & welfare and property & financial affairs). You will then have the solicitors fees on top of this, which is usually in the region of around £400.
In terms of potential cost, there can be some issues if you have a joint bank account. As joint bank accounts work on the basis that both parties are in a continuing agreement (which can’t happen if one person is incapable of agreement) your joint bank account will be frozen – which can cause significant problems on production of a valid LPA.