Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) were created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and they came into effect on the 1st October 2007 replacing Enduring Powers of Attorney.
An LPA is a legal document which enables you (the donor) to appoint a person (and/or organisation) as your attorney. When the LPA is registered, the appointed attorneys are then able to manage your affairs on your behalf in the event that you lose the mental capacity to do so yourself (e.g. while in a coma, when suffering from brain damage, dementia etc).
There are two different types of LPAs, one is used in relation to property and financial affairs and allows attorneys to make decisions regarding:
- Paying bills.
- Claiming benefits.
- Managing bank and building society accounts.
- Managing investments
- Making charitable donations (e.g. if you regularly give to charity attorneys may continue making donations).
- Making gifts to family members (e.g. for birthdays and Christmas).
- Buying and selling property.
The other is used in relation to health and welfare and allows attorneys to make decisions regarding:
- General welfare (e.g. daily routine, diet, exercise, dress).
- How you will be cared for (e.g. care from home, residential care).
- Medical Treatments.
- You can also opt to give your attorneys the authority to make decisions regarding life sustaining treatment.
LPAs are administered by an agency sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, called the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The OPG was formed in 2007 in order to protect people within England and Wales. The OPG is responsible for registering LPAs and maintaining the public register of people who have been given power of attorney.
LPAs can only be prepared whilst you have mental capacity. In the event that you lose mental capacity and you do not have a power of attorney in place, someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection to ask for permission to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf (deputyship) as no one will have any legal authority to do so. Applying to the Court of Protection is a lengthy and costly process and can be very stressful. It can also be problematic if your family members requires this as a matter of urgency.
The key benefits of making a Lasting Power of Attorney are:
- Property and financial affairs LPAs can be made so that they can be used as soon as they are registered (even if you still have mental capacity). This can be helpful if you are very ill and unable to manage your affairs but you still have capacity, It can also be helpful if you are out of the country and need someone to take care of things in your absence.
- Once registered the LPAs are ready to be used when required and there are no delays waiting to go through the Court of Protection and no court costs.
- Creating LPAs allows you to be able to choose the person/people/organisation that you trust to take care of your affairs and allows you to decide how decisions will be made.
- You can use your LPA to make your attorneys aware of specific instructions or preferences you would like them to follow.
- Health and welfare LPAs enable you to give your attorneys to make decisions regarding life sustaining treatment.
- If you own your property as Tenants in Common your partner will not be able to deal with your share of the property without an LPA in place or application to the court which can be costly