If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you may have assumed that your spouse would automatically be able to deal with your bank account and pensions, and make decisions about your healthcare, if you lose the ability to do so. This is not the case. Without Lasting Powers of Attorney, they won’t have the authority and that is why it is so crucial to put these in place for you and your family.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) were introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 from 1st October 2007 and replaced the old style Enduring Power of Attorney as a method by which one person, in advance of losing their mental capacity, can appoint another person or persons of their choice to act as their Attorney to make decisions on their behalf and manage their affairs in the event that they lose their capacity and cannot do so in future.
There are 2 different types of LPAs:
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that is ‘completed’ in advance of a person losing mental capacity. Someone with appropriate knowledge about the individual or with suitable expertise, like a solicitor or medical practitioner, must certify that the individual had mental capacity to make the Lasting Power of Attorney and they were doing so without any undue pressure or influence.
Once the application form is complete, it is then either registered straight away with the Office of The Public Guardian and ‘kept’ until needed or registered at a later date. The majority of individuals register their LPA's straight away to ensure they are immediately ready for use when required.
The registration period takes 6-8 weeks on average. The Office of The Public Guardian must, by law, allow a period of at least 4 weeks to allow for notifications of interested parties and objections to be raised to safeguard against abuse.
Once ‘registered’ with the Office of the Public Guardian a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney will then allow the chosen individuals to make decisions on the Donors behalf. There are no temporary or limited powers that can be used by the attorney during the registration process. Whilst the individual still has their capacity, the Attorney may only act on behalf of the individual with their consent. The individual can revoke their LPA at any time whilst they still have their mental capacity.
A registered Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney will only become effective upon the Donor losing mental capacity.
It's a common a misconception that Lasting Powers of Attorney are only for people in advancing years, but it is possible for any of us to lose our capacity through illness or injury at any time. Whatever your age, an LPA is a sensible tool to have.
Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney is straightforward, and it provides Peace of Mind that if you do become incapacitated for whatever reason, whoever you choose as your attorney(s) can immediately act on your behalf and in your best interests.
It is worth being mindful that once you reach the point where you need someone to act for you, it’s often too late to set up an LPA.
That’s why it’s best to make Lasting Powers of Attorney at the same time as you do a Will. We offer discounted costs for clients who opt for Wills & LPA's together as a 'Peace of Mind' package.
Don't put off until tomorrow that which you could do today!