A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is something many of us need to consider as we get older. It is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to step in and make decisions on your behalf if and when you lack the capacity to do so.
What is an LPA?
LPAs come in two different types – Health and Welfare and Property and Financial Affairs. A Health and Welfare LPA will give your trusted third party the authority to make decisions about circumstances such as living arrangements, about medical care and social wellbeing. The law requires the ‘Attorney’ (the trusted third party) to ensure that decisions that can still be taken by an individual remain within their control – the Attorney should only step in to take decisions where this is not the case.
The Property and Financial Affairs LPA is designed to protect financial interests of the person who is the subject of the LPA (the ‘donor’). It will give the Attorney the ability to make decisions about matters such as withdrawing money from bank accounts, property dealings, tax, benefits and pensions.
What are the basic rules for the Attorney?
It’s important to choose an Attorney that you trust and who you know will do their best for you once the LPA is set up. An Attorney must make decisions that are in the best interests of the donor at all times. Attorneys who don’t do this can be removed from their position. If there is a question mark over whether the Attorney is acting in the best interests of the donor then they may be investigated by the Court of Protection. Most people who set up an LPA will choose a close friend or family member as their Attorney as this provides peace of mind that your interests will be properly considered.
Are there any risks with an LPA?
The main risk is in the choice of Attorney, which is why it’s so important to choose someone you trust. The loss of control is often the part of an LPA that a donor fears the most, but the reality is that it may be a relief to have someone else take control of financial affairs or medical decisions if it’s not something you feel comfortable doing any more.
What happens if there isn’t an LPA?
If a person loses the mental capacity to make their own decisions and there is no LPA in place then it might become necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy. This is a much more time consuming and expensive process than setting up an LPA and not the preferable route. Leaving this kind of protection until after something has happened can also leave you vulnerable, which is why so many people choose to draw up an LPA well before it is likely to be used.
To discuss setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney call 01524 386500 or click here to contact us. Our specialist Solicitors are available in both our Lancaster and Preston offices.