Reasons why you should setup your Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a person of choice that you appoint to make decisions on your behalf, if you were to lose mental capacity or no longer want to make decisions by yourself. Losing mental capacity is usually related to Alzheimer’s or Dementia, however, you can lose capacity if you were to gave a serious accident. It is important to think about this, because it may cause problems later down the line. An LPA enables you to plan your future, no matter what happens. It protects yourself and your family financially, and it reduces family conflict by clearly stating who you would like to manage your health and finances. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a separate legal document to your will, although many people do choose to have their will written and LPA appointed at the same time, and have them stored together.
There are two different types of LPA:
- Property and Financial Affairs LPA
- Health and Welfare LPA
Property and Financial Affairs LPA
An LPA for property and financial can make decisions that cover things such as;
- Buying and selling property
- Paying your mortgage
- Investing money
- Paying your bills
- Arranging maintenance/repairs to your property
You can use a property and financial LPA whilst you still have capacity, or you can state that you only want them to come into force when you lose capacity. You can restrict the types of decisions your LPA can make, or you can allow them to make all decisions on your behalf.
If you’re setting up an LPA for property and financial, it is important for your attorney to keep their money separate from yours. You can always ask for regular updates on how much money has been spent, and how much money you have. These details can be sent to your solicitor or a family member if you were to lose capacity. This keeps everything safe and secure.
Health and Welfare LPA
An LPA for health and welfare is used to make decisions such as;
- Where you should live
- Your medical care
- What you should eat
- Who you have contact with
- What kind of social activities you should take part in
A health and welfare LPA can only be used once you have lost mental capacity. You can give your attorney special permission to make decisions about life-saving treatment.
It is important to remember that if you’re married, that doesn’t automatically give your partner the right to act as your LPA. You will have to set them up as your LPA if you wish to do so.
What happens if you don’t appoint an attorney?
It is a common mistake to think that partners or close family will be automatically given the right to make decisions on your behalf if you were to lose capacity. This is not the case. If you were to lose capacity and not have an LPA in place, a court will appoint a deputy to make decisions regarding your health and finances, the scope of power granted will be dictated by the court. If your loved one would like to apply to be your attorney, they will have to pay court fees. These fees will work out more than appointing an LPA in the first place, and there is no guarantee that they will be granted access to your health and finance decisions.
Here at Wills & Trust, we can help you set up your LPA for both Health & Welfare, and Property & Financial. Our fees start at from £275.
How to choose your attorney
You can appoint more than one LPA if you so desire. Your LPA can be a family member, friend, or professional such as a solicitor. Your LPA must be over the age of 18, have full mental capacity, must have no bankruptcy or be subject to debt relief order, and most importantly be someone that you trust.
What can an attorney not do?
There are many things an attorney can’t do, including;
- Pay themselves a fee (unless given permission to do so)
- Use their position to benefit themselves personally (e.g. use your money for themselves
- Make big gifts of money to people
- Combine their finances with yours (a separate bank account must be kept)
- Manage discretionary funds with a fund manager
- Tax plan without authority from the Court of Protection.
An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used, so the best advice is not to wait to setup an LPA, because it may get too late. The OPG charge a registration fee to register each LPA. You may be entitled to a reduction/waiver depending on your circumstances.
If you would like more information, or to speak to one of us, do not hesitate to get in touch! You can speak to us either on the phone, by email, or even on social media. All our details can be found on our Contact Page