What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document whereby one person gives another person (called the Attorney) the authority to make decisions on their behalf in order to avoid problems if they later lose physical or mental capacity.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney. Either or both can be made on your behalf:-

(a) A Property and Financial affairs LPA – which allows your Attorney to deal with your property and finances.
(b) A Health and Welfare LPA – which allows your Attorney make decisions on your behalf regarding your personal healthcare and welfare, including making medical treatment decisions and giving or refusing life sustaining treatment.

If a person loses mental capacity without having an LPA in place, a family member, or indeed anyone who is willing, would have to make an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputy to be appointed to deal with that person’s affairs. This is often a frustrating and expensive process for the person making the application and nothing can be done in relation to a person’s affairs until an Order of the Court has been obtained.

An LPA is an important and powerful document and you should take care as to whom you appoint as your Attorney. More than one Attorney can be appointed should you wish and you can decide how they can act; this being independently or jointly. Your Attorney should be trustworthy and possess the necessary skills to make decisions on your behalf. You may if you wish, limit your Attorneys powers, including when they can act and how.

An LPA can only be used once it has been signed by you and your Attorney and certified by a person of your choice, who is able to say that you understand what the LPA is and that you have not been unduly pressurised into making it. An LPA also has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.

Please ensure that when getting advice about Wills and LPAs that you speak to a qualified specialist adviser, such as a solicitor on the Age Connect Will writing scheme. Carli Evans is a solicitor with Messrs Passmores and a member of Age Connect Will Writing Scheme, Solicitors for the Elderly, and STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) a specialist panel of solicitors dealing with elderly client matters. Carli can be contacted on 01446 721000 or by email ce@passmores.com