Making a lasting power of attorney (LPA) is one of the most straightforward and helpful things you can do to protect yourself and your family. It is a way of giving someone you trust, your attorney, the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do so in the future, or if you no longer want to make decisions for yourself.
If you are 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 an LPA, they won’t have the authority.
If you lose mental capacity to make or communicate your own decisions before setting up a power of attorney the Court of Protection may become involved
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
LPA for financial decisions
An LPA for financial decisions can be used while you still have mental capacity or you can state that you only want it to come into force if you lose capacity. An LPA for financial decisions can cover buying and selling property, paying the mortgage, investing money, paying bills and arranging repairs to property.
You can restrict the types of decisions your attorney can make, or let them make all decisions on your behalf. If you set up an LPA for financial decisions, your attorney must keep separate accounts and you can require details of how much is spent and how much money you have. These details can be sent to your solicitor or a family member if you lose mental capacity.
LPA for health and care decisions
This covers health and care decisions and can only be used once you have lost mental capacity. An attorney can generally make decisions about things such as where you should live, your medical care, what you should eat, who you should have contact with, what kind of social activities you should take part in. You can also give special permission for your attorney to make decisions about life-saving treatment.
Setting up a lasting power of attorney
You don’t have to use a solicitor to create an LPA. The application forms from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) contain guidance to help you complete them. Alternatively, you can fill them in online and phone the OPG helpline if you have any issues or concerns.
If you want to use a solicitor, you’ll need to pay them to complete the form for you. Fees for creating an LPA vary, so you might want to contact a few to compare their fees and the service they offer.
The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. There’s a fee of £82 to register each LPA. If you’re on a low income, you may be eligible for a 50% discount, and if you’re receiving certain benefits you may not have to pay anything at all.