Partner Michelle Collins explains why we should all have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place...
An LPA allows you to choose someone (or more than one person) to be given the legal authority to look after aspects of your financial affairs and/or health and welfare during your lifetime.
LPAs are advisable because, for various reasons, there may be a time that you are unable to manage your own affairs and need someone to do this for you. This could be due to an accident, stroke, head injury, dementia or simply reaching the stage where you can no longer manage your finances or decisions about your care. It may also just be easier for a family member or friend to speak to financial organisations on your behalf or to sign necessary paperwork.
LPAs are designed to be recognised by financial institutions, care homes and local authorities as well as tax, benefits and pension authorities.
Different types of LPA
There are two types of LPA to choose from - the Property and Financial Affairs LPA and the Health and Welfare LPA. The majority of people have both.
The Property and Financial Affairs LPA
This LPA authorises someone (your ‘Attorney’) to manage your financial affairs, to make decisions about finances and property, including the ability to spend money on your behalf, sell property, deal with financial organisations and pay care home fees.
The Health and Welfare LPA
This LPA authorises someone (your ‘Attorney’) to make decisions about your day-to-day life when you are unable to, including healthcare, choosing a care home and liaising with social services. They would also be able to access personal information (eg medical records).
Choosing someone to have LPA
There needs to be utmost trust between you and your Attorney, as the Attorney can sign documents on your behalf in relation to your finances. When completing the LPA, the Attorney has to sign to say s/he will always act in your best interests.
If you want to have a choice about who deals with your finances and who makes decisions about you when you cannot, you need to make an LPA. Restrictions can be put in the LPA stating the circumstances in which it can be used, so you know the management of your affairs will not be taken from you unnecessarily.
Loss of capacity with no LPA in place
If you leave it too late and lack the mental capacity to make an LPA, then in order to deal with your finances and health/welfare matters, your family will have to make an application to the Court of Protection to have someone appointed to act as a ‘Deputy’. The Court of Protection will ultimately decide who is a suitable appointment. The process is time-consuming (it can take months for an order to be issued) and can be extremely expensive. Bear in mind that whilst waiting for the Deputyship order to be issued your family would still have decisions to make and care bills to pay, but with no access to funds to do so. Not having an LPA can make life very difficult.
Our fees for a Property and Financial Affairs or a Health and Welfare LPA are currently £350 + VAT or if you choose to have one of each we charge £550 + VAT. There is also a registration fee of £82 per document payable to the Office of the Public Guardian.