A Guide to Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting power of attorney is a legal document, that allows someone else to make important decisions on your behalf.  This gives you more control over what happens to you, should something occur meaning that you no longer have ‘mental capacity’ to make decisions for yourself.

The lasting power of attorney, or LPA for short, delegates authority to a designated individual whom you have authorised to act on your behalf.

What is meant by mental capacity?

A person lacks capacity if a neurological condition prevents them from making rational decisions.  This could be due to a variety of circumstances such as mental health concerns, a brain injury, or an illness such as dementia.

To be considered as having full mental capacity you should be able to:

  • Understand the information needed to make a decision
  • Hold on to that information long enough to make the decision
  • Use information or weigh up options to make the decision
  • Communicate their decision

What can a Lasting Power of Attorney be used for?

There are two types of LPA – one for financial decisions and one for health and welfare decisions.

If you have an LPA to manage your finances, your designated person could be in charge of items like:

  • Managing your bank or building society account
  • Paying bills
  • Collecting pension or benefits
  • Selling your property

To use the financial LPA, you do not need to have lost mental capacity.  It can be used as soon as it is registered, however your consent is necessary if you want assistance with any of the above.

The second type of LPA covers health and welfare decisions, such as:

  • Medical care and treatment
  • Receiving care, either at home or moving into residential care
  • Life-sustaining treatment

The health and welfare LPA can be utilised only if you no longer have the mental capacity to make these critical decisions for yourself.

Who can I appoint as my attorney?

First and foremost, your attorney must be over the age of 18 and have the mental capacity to make their own judgements.

The majority of people will pick a family member, such as a spouse or a son or daughter.  You might, however, appoint a friend or even a professional, such as a solicitor or financial advisor.

When choosing the person that you’d like to appoint, think about the following:

  • How well do they look after their own affairs, for example their finances? Your attorney can’t be someone who has been declared bankrupt.
  • How well do you know them?
  • Do you trust them to make decisions that are in YOUR best interests.
  • Are they willing and happy to make these decisions on your behalf.

It is essential that anyone taking on this function is well informed of what the role entails and is a willing participant.

Can I have more than one attorney?

Yes.  Some people may want to have a couple of family members in charge of their affairs.  When creating your LPA, you will specify how they will make future decisions.

You can determine whether your attorneys can make decisions separately or jointly, which means that all parties hired must agree on the final decision.  You can change how decisions are made.  You may believe that some decisions, such as paying bills, are simple enough for one person to handle on their own.  However, for more significant activities such as selling your house or seeking medical care, it may be prudent to have all of the attorneys make the decision together.

You can state your preferences on the LPA form.

How much does Lasting Power of Attorney cost?

Many people put off getting an LPA because they believe it will be expensive, however fees can vary depending on the process.

The full fee to register each type of LPA is £82.  This means that if you decided to get both the Financial LPA and the Health and Welfare LPA, it would be a total cost of £164.

You do not need to hire a solicitor to create an LPA as long as you can fill out the application form and understand the process well.  If you wish, you can seek legal counsel; however, keep in mind that this will incur additional charges.

If you want to know more about an LPA, this useful video from Martin Lewis is worth a watch.

How to apply for Lasting Power of Attorney

Either yourself, or your appointed person can apply online at www.lastingpowerofattorney.service.gov.uk or if you’d prefer you can contact the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300

If you are interested in providing care for your loved one, either before opting to pursue a lasting power of attorney, or as part of your responsibilities as an attorney, then please contact our team at Home Instead for more information on 01745 772150.