Lasting Powers of Attorney
Unlike a Will, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are for the living. Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney are not connected and should be treated very differently. Lasting Powers of Attorney are put in place in case you lose the capacity to make your own decisions.
There are two types of LPA, Property & Finance and Health & Welfare; you can opt for one or both. It is imperative that you have arranged these documents while you still have the capacity to do so. Once you have lost capacity it is too late to arrange Lasting Powers of Attorney. There seems to be a lot of public mystery surrounding LPA’s, whether they are required, what they do and how do they actually work.
Property & Finance
Property & Finance Lasting Powers of Attorney can be used whilst you still have capacity with the donor’s permission which can be useful if you are overseas or physically unable to carry something out or hard of hearing e.g. phone calls to utility companies, pension service or banks. Many people have experienced the benefit of this during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Property & Finance LPA is used for things such as:
- looking after your bills;
- making investments for you;
- buying, selling or maintaining your property;
- giving gifts on your behalf;
- arranging payment for long term care.
Health & Welfare
Health & Welfare can only be used when you no longer have capacity and enables your attorneys to make both day-to-day and long term decisions. If you do not have a H&W LPA, adult social services will make decisions on your behalf.
Having a H&W LPA in place means your Attorneys can make these choices for you.
The Health & Welfare LPA is used for things such as:
- whether you live at home or in a care home;
- life sustaining treatment;
- all decisions relating to your health;
- personal care eg personal grooming;
- leisure activities.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are for everyone regardless of how healthy you normally are or how simple or complicated your finances are. We think of LPA as being similar to an insurance policy; You insure your house, car, etc. in the hope that you never need to call upon that insurance – but you’d be foolish not to have it in place. You should arrange a LPA in case you are the 1 in 4 of us who lose capacity in their lifetime but hope you never need to use it.
Having an Lasting Power of Attorney in place does not mean that your attorneys have control of you, their role is to advocate for you in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The law says attorneys must follow one rule above all; to make all decisions in your best interests, not their own or anyone else’s. Even if you have lost capacity your attorneys must try to involve you in decision making as much as possible.
Many people include preferences and instructions within the Lasting Powers of Attorney documents which help guide your attorneys to make the decisions that you would have done if you still had capacity to do so.
The documents must be registered with the Office of The Public Guardian (OPG) in order to be used. The OPG have safeguarding methods in place to stop attorneys being able to abuse their position. Having more than one attorney as well as having reserve Attorney/s is always advisable.