How Does a Lasting Power of Attorney Work?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that appoints someone else to make decisions on your behalf. You draw up the document and you decide who should have decision-making powers.
What’s the point of a Lasting Power of Attorney?
There may come a time in life when you can’t carry out your own affairs. Often, this will be for morbid reasons, such as old age, injury or illness. However, it could also be that you’re out of the country for an extended period of time, and cannot get back to sign paperwork or manage your finances.
In these situations, it helps to have someone you know and trust who can act on your behalf. But your loved ones are not simply allowed to step into the breach: legally that’s just not allowed. Instead, they have to be formally appointed through a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This applies to all your family members: even your spouse.
How does an LPA work?
LPAs work on the basis that you appoint between one and four people to act as your Attorneys. They could be relatives, friends or professionals, such as solicitors or accountants. In signing the LPA, you are giving your Attorneys the legal authority to manage your affairs. However, the exact extent of their powers depends on the terms of the LPA.
You are in control of what your Attorneys are allowed to do. That is why you must make an LPA while you still have mental capacity. If you want, you can give them the authority to access your assets, sign paperwork on your behalf and make decisions about your healthcare. That way, if you can’t do these things yourself, your Attorneys can immediately pick up the reins.
Types of LPA
There are actually two types of LPA. The first is a Health and Welfare LPA. This allows your Attorneys to make decisions about your medical care and day-to-day life. The second is a Property and Financial Affairs LPA. This allows your Attorney to sell your property, access your assets and collect your pension.
You can have one or both LPAs in place: the choice is yours. Most people who are planning for later life choose to have both LPAs, as this ensures all bases are covered. Those who simply need someone to manage their affairs while they’re abroad will only need a Property and Financial Affairs LPA.
When does the LPA take effect?
Lots of people are concerned about making an LPA, as they think their Attorneys will immediately take control of their life. However, this is not necessarily the case. Remember, LPAs are there to protect you. They actually give you greater control over what happens, and when.
That is why Health and Welfare LPAs only take effect if and when you lose mental capacity. You still have to make the LPA now, while you have capacity. But then the LPA is effectively ‘put on ice’ until it’s needed (if it is needed at all). In the meantime, you’ll continue to make your own decisions.
Property and Financial Affairs LPAs can take effect immediately if you want them to. Or, they can work in the same way as a Health and Welfare LPA, in that it only comes into force if and when you lose mental capacity. Again, these are all decisions that you make, ensuring your wishes are fulfilled.
How to make an LPA
You can make an LPA yourself, or you can ask our solicitors to help you. You’ll need to decide who your Attorneys should be, along with back-up Attorneys, just in case anything happens to your original choice. You’ll also need to decide how you want your Attorneys to act and what type of powers you want them to have.
Then you’ll need to complete the paperwork, which includes signing the document in front of independent witnesses. It must also be signed by a certificate provider, who confirms you have capacity. The LPA must then be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This is important, or your Attorneys won’t be able to act.
Want to know more? Ask our Sunderland solicitors
If you want to know more about how an LPA works, or you want help drafting the document, please call us on 0191 567 7244 and we’ll be happy to help you. If you would rather contact us online, email us at email@example.com and one of our team will be in contact with you shortly.