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Do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney? What is it?

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lasting power of attorney

Many of us don’t like to think about the future and our own demise but sometimes a little bit of planning can make the world of difference to our families and loved ones as well as ourselves.

A stroke, heart attack, dementia or a severe accident can leave us dependent upon other people to help make crucial decisions in our lives.

Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is one way that we can plan for our future, to ensure someone you trust can make these crucial decisions at a time when it is needed and also cuts the costs of the alternatives available.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where someone (while they still have mental capacity) nominates a friend, relative or professional that they trust to look after their affairs, whether it be financial or welfare, if they lose capacity in the future.

Who needs a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Everyone, potentially.

Common illnesses such as cancer or heart disease can leave us reliant on other people and these illnesses can strike at any time, whether young or old.

Statistically more than 800,000 people in the UK have dementia, and the Alzheimer’s Society predicts this will rise to more than one million by 2025.  It is reported also that every 90 seconds someone is admitted to hospital in the UK with a brain injury from an accident.

How does a Lasting Power of Attorney work?

An LPA is a legal document where you name the people you’d like to make decisions for you when you either can’t or don’t want to make decisions for yourself. You can make an LPA for decisions about your money or about your health and welfare.

When does an LPA start working?

An LPA can be restricted so that it is only used if you can no longer make your own decisions – known as losing ‘mental capacity’.   Or it can be unrestricted so it can be used when you want it to be used e.g. if you have a long stay in hospital, you can instruct it to be used to access your bank whilst you are physically incapacitated.

What happens if I don’t have an LPA?

If you lose mental capacity, through illness or accident, and haven’t made a valid LPA then:

  • You will no longer be able to decide who makes decisions for you as you can only make your LPA whilst you have mental capacity.
  • People you don’t know could end up making crucial decisions for you instead of your family or loved ones, such as whether to accept medical treatment to keep you alive, or about what you eat and wear and where you live (Doctors, Social Services etc)
  • Your family or friends might have to go to Court to be able to make decisions on your behalf which is expensive, time-consuming and not guaranteed that your family would be appointed to make decisions

Who can I appoint in my LPA?

The people you choose to make decisions for you in an LPA are called ‘attorneys’. You can have one attorney or several. There are no special qualifications to be an attorney, but it must be someone that you trust, as it is an important role that they are to undertake.  Anyone who’s over 18 can be an attorney, with a few exceptions. Many people choose family members or close friends as their attorneys. Some people choose professionals such as a solicitor or accountant.  It is your choice who you have.

What sorts of decisions will my attorneys make?

There are two types of LPA:

  • Property & Financial Affairs
  • Health & Welfare

Dependant on the type of LPA you make, depends what decisions your Attorneys will be able to make.

In a Property & Financial Affairs LPA they will be able to:

  • Look after your bills
  • Make or close investments for you
  • Buy, sell or maintain your property
  • Give gifts on your behalf to family and friends or charities in some cases.

In a Health and welfare LPA they will be able to:

  • Decide whether you live at home or in a care home
  • Choose what leisure activities, diet and kinds of clothes you prefer
  • Decide what happens to your pets if you lose mental capacity
  • Whether to accept or refuse certain types of medical treatment

Does an LPA mean someone has total control over me?

No. Most people want the option of help with decision-making while they still have mental capacity. If that’s the case, your attorneys must act solely on your instructions and you can cancel your LPA at any time. Even when you lose mental capacity, your attorneys must involve you as much as possible in decision-making.

How much does an LPA cost?

Here at Andrew Isaacs Law we want to help make the process of making an LPA as simple as possible.  We therefore charge on a fixed fee basis, so it is clear what our charges will be.

  • To create a single LPA (e.g. Property & Financial only) £400.00 plus VAT
  • To create both LPA’s for one person (Property & Financial and Health & Welfare) £500.00 plus VAT
  • To create a single LPA for two people (e.g. Property & Financial only) £500.00 plus VAT
  • To create both LPA’s for two people (Property & Financial and Health & Welfare) £700.00 plus VAT

In addition to the above the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) charges £82 each to register an LPA so it can be used (Both Property & Finances and Health & Welfare for one person would be £164.00 in registration fees).  Please note that an LPA has to be registered at the OPG to be used. People receiving certain benefits or who have a low income can pay less or no registration fee, and we would discuss this with you.

Please note that home visits can be arranged but may incur additional costs.

Contact us to arrange a no obligation appointment.

Ginette McCaffery – Wills, Probate & Trusts Solicitor

Article dated:  16.01.2024

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