A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal tool that allows you to give someone you trust the legal authority to act on your behalf if you can no longer make decisions for yourself, ensuring that you and your affairs are protected.
There has been a notable rise in Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registrations across the UK, which is believed to be a direct result of longer life expectancies. With residents of the UK continuing to live longer, the possibility that they will lose their ability to make decisions for themselves during their lifetime increases. If the situation arises when you are no longer able to make decisions by yourself, an LPA can protect you and your affairs, particularly from financial abuse.
An LPA refers to a legal document, which allows you to appoint one or more people as your attorney to act on your behalf when you lack the mental capacity to do so – generally in the case of mental illness, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, old age or an accident. At Romain Coleman, our expert elderly care solicitors have years of experience in drafting LPAs, and protecting the future of the vulnerable.
There are two different types of LPAs that you can decide to make:
Property and Financial Affairs LPA: This type of LPA gives your attorney the power to make decisions when it comes to your property and finances. After this LPA has been registered, your attorney can act immediately and may start collecting your pension, selling your home, managing your bank accounts and paying your bills.
Health and Welfare LPA: This type of LPA allows your attorney to make decisions when it comes to your daily care, which can include dressing, washing and feeding you. A Health and Welfare LPA also covers your medical care and means that your attorney can decide if you should be moved into a care home. Your attorney can only start making any of these decisions when you lack the capacity to do so, or under certain circumstances.
At Romain Coleman, our experienced solicitors recommend that you make both LPAs at the same time to ensure that all your important affairs will be protected in the future. You must also choose an attorney or attorneys that you can trust completely, as they will have to act in your best interests when the time comes.
To make an LPA you need to be over 18 years old and have the right mental capacity to do so – meaning that you are able to process information and understand the consequences of the legal document. Romain Coleman’s solicitors advise that you waste no time when it comes to drafting your LPAs, particularly if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness that will impair your mental capacity.
When making an LPA, it is essential to understand that the document differs from a will. An LPA only protects your interests while you are alive and when you are unable to make decisions, whereas a will details how you want your assets to be shared when you have died. Having a will in place is just as important as having your LPA or LPAs in order, so employ Romain Coleman’s Will Services today to give you peace of mind.
Although it is possible to make your LPA by yourself, get it signed and witnessed before making an application to the Office of the Public Guardian, or online via gov.uk, our expert solicitors strongly advise against it. The legal jargon and intricacies of the document can be difficult to comprehend, and if you make even the smallest error, your LPA can be deemed invalid. To save yourself and your loved ones the effort, time and stress, our experienced team of solicitors can effectively assist you with the process, ensuring that you understand every element of the document and its effects.
At this point in your life, it may be unpleasant to consider that in the future, your mental faculties could be impaired. However, without an LPA in place, your affairs could be left in disarray. Many people mistakenly believe that if they are married or in a civil partnership their spouse or partner will automatically have the power to handle their financial and health affairs if they lose the ability to do so. But, unfortunately, if you do not have an LPA when the time comes, your loved one will not have mandatory authority.
The only alternative for your partner or spouse in this situation is to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order to be your deputy – a person who will make decisions on your behalf in terms of your affairs. This process can take months, costs a great deal more than an LPA and in the time it takes for your Deputyship Order to be granted, nobody is able to make decisions on your behalf. By having an LPA in place, you can take comfort in the fact that someone you trust will be making decisions on your behalf, and that your financial, property, health and welfare affairs will be adequately protected and sufficiently looked after.
At Romain Coleman, our supportive elderly care solicitors place great importance on having your affairs in order, and making your LPA is a vital first step to protecting your future. With the dedicated guidance of our team, we can make sure the process of drafting, validating and administrating your LPA is as straightforward as possible.
Given that this legal document can have such weighty consequences on your life and the lives of your loved ones in the future, avoid putting your LPA off any longer and allow our solicitors to help and advise you. Contact our experienced team on 0208 520 3322 or via our Contact Form.
This article was first published in 2016 and has been updated on 07/08/19.
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This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.