What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you (the donor) appoint people you trust (your attorneys) and give them power to make decisions for you in the event that you become incapacited and unable to make decisions for yourself. These documents are also vital in the event that you’d like support in managing your financial affairs or health and welfare.

There are two types of LPA

One governs your Health and Welfare and the other gives power over your Property and Financial Affairs.

Which is more important?

In our opinion, both are vital. Arguably, these are as important as your Will.

Roles within an LPA

                Donor

You are the donor in your LPA. In a Will you’re known as the testator but in an LPA you’re referred to as the donor

                Attorneys

This is the person, people or professionals that you appoint to be able to make decisions on your behalf.

                Certificate Provider

As an official document, and just like your Will, you need mental capacity to be able to create an LPA. As a professional estate planning professional, I can act as your certificate provider. Alternatively, someone who has known your for at least two years could act.

When do I need one?

Hopefully, never when we are considering a loss of capacity. Of course, LPAs are useful for more reasons than this. When we’d like support with our finances and perhaps would like a loved one to support us by helping us to pay our bills etc.

Is it Valid when it’s signed like a Will?

No. The process here is slightly different. For this document to become valid it needs to be registered with a government body called The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). They charge a registration fee of £82 per document (unless you’re entitled to remissions or exemptions).

What happens if I don’t have one?

Consider it like an insurance policy. It’s good to have them in place should you need it. Not having one could mean that loved ones will have to apply to the court in order to be able to access your money. This might be money that was available to them when you had capacity. Apply to the court is a timely and expensive procedure that can be avoided by speaking to me about LPAs.

This video, shown on the One Show on the BBC demonstrates the importance of these documents and the impact it can have on your family or loved ones at a time when they will already be under emotional strain.

Can’t I just create an LPA myself?

Yes, in the same way you could write a Will yourself, but should you? Probably not! Here at PAA, we have produced thousands of LPAs and our job is to make sure that we gather the correct information and complete the forms correctly to ensure that they won’t get rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian. If you were to make a mistake then it can become costly because the OPG will keep the application fee.

What are the benefits?

  1. You have control. You choose your attorneys. You can choose when they act and can limit their powers.
  2. You can name multiple attorneys and state whether you’d like them to make decisions together or whether they can act on their own. You can also appoint reserve attorneys.
  3. Your attorneys must act in your best interest. When looking after your money, they can’t just give it all away or spend it on themselves. All decisions they make must be in your best interests.
  4. You have peace of mind knowing that your family will be able to access your money, pay bills and won’t be under financial pressure should you lose capacity.
  5. They are legally binding so banks and building societies will accept them.
  6. They can be registered when you still have capacity so your attorneys can help you by paying bills and helping to make decisions regarding your care etc.