A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows one or more trusted people to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated – e.g. through dementia, injury, critical illness, or old age. The person who is creating the document is known as the Donor. In creating the LPA the Donor appoints the person or people that they wish to manage their affairs should they lose capacity (usually a spouse or partner and adult children); this person is known as the Attorney. The decisions that an Attorney can make include, but is not limited to, estate planning, day to day finances, investment and property decisions, talking to your doctor or social services and making end of life decisions.
To create a Lasting Power of Attorney you must be over 18 years of age and be ‘of sound mind’ – i.e. capable of making a rational, free, and considered decision. There are two types of LPA agreement:
1) Health and Welfare – the power to make decisions about your health and medical treatment. This relates to decisions about whether or not to move into a home or whether and when to end life-prolonging treatment.
2) Property and Financial – the power to make financial decisions and manage assets on your behalf – for example, paying bills and receiving benefits.
When To Make An LPA Agreement
People often leave it far too late to set up powers of attorney, which can create massive issues for relatives and care givers, and inhibit them from helping you manage your affairs in the way you’d have liked. Don’t leave things till the last minute as the alternative is for your advocate to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your deputy, which takes time – up to a year – and is much more stressful, as nothing can happen in the meantime. This can quickly become an administrative nightmare.
To avoid this, many people set up an LPA when they are young and in good health, at the same time as writing a will. Any of the Attorneys appointed in the LPA can always be changed if necessary, assuming that you still have capacity to do so – and the person does not have to be the same as the executor of your Will, or a beneficiary of your estate.
How Can I Activate A Lasting Power Of Attorney?
Setting up a lasting power of attorney is a quick and straightforward process. You will need to decide who you would like to act as your attorney(s) and how you would like them to act. Then it is merely a matter of completing the forms with signatures, witnesses and the provision of a certificate. Cornerstone Wills can guide you through this process, as it is vital to ensure that the paperwork is completed correctly.
How Long Does Lasting Power Of Attorney Last?
An LPA lasts until it is revoked or the Donor dies.
Can A Lasting Power Of Attorney Be Challenged?
Yes, if you think that the appointed attorney is not acting in the best interests of the Donor, it is possible to challenge. You will need to bring this to the attention of the Court of Protection.
If you are over 40 years old, taking the time to set up an LPA while you have full mental capacity is a sensible thing to do. Contact Cornerstone Wills for a consultation to safeguard yourself and your family for the future.
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