What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney, and how could it help me?
The number of people in the UK with a Lasting Power of Attorney has risen sharply in the past few years.
Registrations of LPAs jumped from 129,000 in 2010 to 441,000 in 2015, and more than two million were filed in 2016.
Why is this happening?
We’re living longer and more and more people are being diagnosed with illnesses and health problems which limit their capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Taking dementia as an example, there are now 850,000 people with the condition in UK – in fact, one in 14 people over 65 have the condition.
The numbers of cases are also set to increase. Research for the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that one in three people born this year will develop dementia at some time in their lifetime.
What is an LPA?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document appointing someone to make decisions for you.
An LPA can plan for when you can no longer make your own decisions, ensuring those decisions are made by someone you trust.
There are two types of LPA, a property and financial affairs LPA covering your banking, benefits, paying your bills, and selling your home, and a health and welfare LPA, making decisions about your medical care, treatment, and daily care routine.
You can make one, or both, LPAs depending on your circumstances.
A financial LPA can be drawn up and used as soon as it is registered, while a health and welfare LPA can only be used when you’re unable to make your own decisions.
Whoever is appointed as an attorney must act in the person’s best interest, must not take advantage of the situation, and must keep all money separate from their own.
Why are LPAs needed?
The law can be complicated when it comes to making decisions for the people we love.
Someone in a marriage or civil partnership might assume their spouse or partner can deal with their finances and make decisions about their healthcare if they lose the ability to do so.
That is not necessarily the case.
If someone has not drawn up an LPA when their partner or friend wants to make decisions for them, they may have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as the person’s Deputy. This can be expensive and complicated.
Why do you need good legal representation?
All LPA forms must be filled out, witnessed, and registered correctly, and a ‘certificate provider’ must confirm the person making the LPA is doing so by choice and it is what they want.
This ‘certificate provider’ can be a solicitor, doctor, or social worker.
Having a solicitor act as the ‘certificate provider’ and drawing up an LPA professionally lessens the likelihood that an LPA will be challenged legally.
When making an LPA, it’s also important that you update your will, because your circumstances are changing. A solicitor could act as an impartial executor, giving legal advice and helping your estate to avoid legal problems.
Some people also choose to make a Living Will giving instructions about future care and treatment. It is important that you seek professional advice on this to ensure it does not conflict with an LPA.