Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney

Have you thought about who would look after your affairs if you had an accident, illness, or were unable to make decisions when they need to be made, for example because you lack the mental capacity to do so?

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Many people aren’t aware that if they were to lose their mental capacity, their loved ones cannot automatically access their bank accounts, or deal with their property, should they need to do so. Even the co-owner of a joint account, or joint property, cannot automatically deal with that joint account or property if their co-owner loses capacity.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to appoint one or more attorneys to act for you, either in respect of your Property and Affairs, or your Health and Welfare, or both.

By making LPAs, you are in control of who you appoint to be your attorneys. It can make it easier for your chosen attorneys to be able to deal with your affairs for you in the future, if you need them to do so. You might consider appointing family, close friends, or professionals, such as solicitors, to be your attorneys.

You must be 18 and have mental capacity in order to make your LPA/s.

An LPA (whether for Property and Affairs or for Health and Welfare), must be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.

LPA (Property and Affairs)

Your LPA (Property and Affairs) gives your chosen attorneys the power to make decisions for you regarding your property and affairs, such as managing your bank or building society account, paying bills, or dealing with your property.

An LPA (Property and Affairs) can be used straight away, should you wish to do so. It may be that you do not feel up to dealing with your finances, or you may be travelling abroad for an extended period and need your attorneys to deal with your finances or a property transaction whilst you are away. In this situation, your LPA (Property and Affairs) can be used as soon as it has been registered at the Office of the Public Guardian, and only with your permission.

Alternatively, your LPA can be stored away (and we recommend storage at a solicitors’ office!) for use by your attorneys in the future, should you lose mental capacity in the future.

LPA (Health and Welfare)

An LPA (Health and Welfare) can only be used if and when you have lost mental capacity.

It allows your attorneys to make your decisions for you in respect of your daily routine and medical care, decisions as to where you might live, and – should you specify this in your LPA – decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment.

Contact us on 0800 652 3371 if you would like to discuss LPAs or find out more about them.