Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a process whereby a person (the ‘donor’) with mental capacity, gives authority for a trusted person/s (‘attorney/s’) to make decisions on their behalf if and when they lose capacity.
There are two types of LPA – financial decisions and health and care decisions. The first allows attorneys to look after your finances, pay household bills, and manage your property. The second enables your attorneys to make decisions about your medical treatment (including life support), where you should live, and your care, if you are not able to.
It is important to note that loss of mental capacity can be temporary e.g. a coma after a stroke, from which a person makes a full recovery. The finance LPA can be used before the donor loses mental capacity (with their consent), e.g. if they were physically unable to get to a bank.
There are safeguards in place to protect donors, in that attorneys must always assume that the donor can make decisions, and help them to do so, unless it’s proven that they cannot. Attorneys
must also always act in the donor’s best interests.
Where no LPAs are in place and a person loses mental capacity, Social Services can get involved and may make decisions for a person that they themselves would not have wanted. Relatives
can apply for ‘deputyship’ through the Court of Protection, but this is a long and expensive process and even if deputyship is granted, there are likely to be ongoing costs and onerous supervision.
Creating LPAs in advance avoids this problem and ensures that people you trust, and who know what you would want, will be able to make the right decisions for you if and when you need them to.
Creating LPAs is not a quick process – at present we are seeing the Office of Public Guardian take up to three months to return the registered forms, until which time they cannot be used – so if you are concerned that you or a loved one could lose mental capacity, now is the time to act.
What to do next ?
If you would like to discuss your circumstances with regards to writing a Will, setting up a trust or a lasting power attorney, then please call 0845 689 1495 or get in touch via our secure contact form here .