This article was published on August 30th, 2017
Ever wondered what a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is, or whether it is something you actually need? In this article, we at Thorneycroft Solicitors thought we would offer a helping hand to those of you interested in the subject.
So, what are Lasting Powers of Attorney? An LPA is an important legal document that everyone should complete. There are two types: the first is a health and welfare LPA. This deals with your health and welfare decisions and can only be used after you have lost the ability to make your own decisions, which is also known as ‘losing your mental capacity’.
The second type deals with any property you may own as well as your financial affairs. This can be used before or after someone loses their mental capacity.
In both cases, it is important to remember that an LPA is for use during your lifetime as and when you need it, it is not for use after death. In the event of death, an LPA is superseded by your Will (another document that everyone should have in place).
In both instances of an LPA, you must appoint one or more individuals whom you trust, to act on your behalf as your attorneys. You should also register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian, so that it can be used without delay in the case of an emergency.
If you have assets which are owned solely by you, for example, an ISA account, then you should seriously consider an LPA for property and financial affairs. This will help you guard against any occasion where you need to access assets should you lose your mental capacity. Without an LPA people acting in your best interests would be powerless to access your assets as they would be frozen after you have lost mental capacity.
The LPA for health and welfare is becoming increasingly important. For example, this type of LPA allows your designated attorney(s) to make important decisions concerning your medical treatment when you no longer have the ability to do so. This type of LPA also authorises your chosen attorney(s) to decide where you should live.
If you are yet to set up an LPA, you are putting your family at risk of having to make a very expensive and time-consuming application to the Court of Protection so that they can grant your family the authority they need to deal with your assets or make decisions for your welfare.
The typical cost of having the Court appoint a deputy to handle your property and finances can be over £2,000. The application can take a number of months to process and can be stressful and inconvenient for all involved.
Worryingly the situation can be even worse for those who need to go through the Court for health and welfare matters: the spouse or family member will have to pay the Court costs.
NHS trusts are increasingly asking to see who has authority under the LPA for health and welfare before they make important decisions.
Many of us may think that we are either “too young”, “nothing is going to happen to me” or that “I will address this at a later stage”. However, we all know someone who has memory problems, suffered a serious accident or a rapid deterioration in health. Should this happen and you are unable to manage your own affairs, it may be too late to appoint an attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney and your affairs will be dealt with by the Court of Protection.
Here at Thorneycroft Solicitors, we have an expert team of Wills, Trust and Probate solicitors who specialise in advising on and providing Lasting Powers of Attorney. We provide you with a sensitive and sympathetic service and will guide you through the process from start to finish. Our team is led by Heather Gaunt, a member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), who can act as a professional Attorney if required.