Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)

What is an LPA?

An LPA is a legal document  which allows someone who you have chosen to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so because you are ‘mentally incapacitated’.

What is mental incapacity?

It is when you are unable to make a decision for yourself because something unfortunate has happened to you or you have developed an illness which robs you of the power to make decisions. It can occur in a variety of different circumstances:

  • you have had a serious accident resulting in a brain injury
  • you suffer from mental illness
  • you are intoxicated
  • you have developed an illness such as alzheimer’s or dementia
  • you have reached a point where you are simply overwhelmed by all the complicated financial decisions that are often put in front of you

What is an Attorney?

An Attorney is someone who you have chosen to make decisions on your behalf. It does not need to be the same person who you have chosen as Executor in your Will as there are different responsibilities. Who you choose, and why, is a crucial part of the LPA process and needs careful consideration. You do not need to choose just one Attorney as you can appoint more than one Attorney to share the decision making responsibilities.

LPA – Financial Decisions

This concerns all decisions relating to any bank accounts, benefits, savings, tax, investments, household bills, credit cards, paying for care and running/selling your house, etc.

LPA – Health and Care Decisions

This concerns all decisions relating to your type and level of medical treatment, where you might live, where you might holiday, what you might eat, your future care at home or in residential care, any life-sustaining treatment.

When to make an LPA

Most of us would probably associate LPAs with elderly people, however we would be wrong to assume this.  Sadly, a life-changing event can occur at any time and even younger people can develop dementia early. If you don’t make an LPA when you are younger (and have capacity), it is simply too late to do so when you really need the LPA to take effect. No-one knows what the future holds and when.

If I make an LPA now, does that mean I’m transferring all decision-making before I need to?

No, absolutely not. The LPA only takes effect when you have registered it AND when you have lost your mental capacity. An LPA has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and a fee of £82 paid for it to be valid. If you wish, you do not need to register your LPA straightaway, but it must be signed, witnessed and dated in the right order, in order for you to register it when needed.

What does the LPA consist of?

It is a long form consisting of a minimum of 16 pages, all of which need to be carefully completed and dated in a particular order. You need to nominate your Attorneys, indicate how they are going to act, nominate people to notify (with a separate form), nominate Certificate Providers and then sign and have it witnessed. Your Attorneys also need to sign and be witnessed.

How and when does the LPA become valid?

When all the signatures have been collected and all the people notified, another form needs to be completed and sent to the OPG with the fee of £82. The OPG takes between 8 – 10 weeks to register the LPA. If they discover any mistake, the LPA is returned and the process has to start all over again and another £82 paid. Once the LPA is returned to you with the official OPG stamp, you can forget about it until such future time it is needed.

Do I need both types of LPA?

No, but if you’re going through this longwinded process, you may feel you want to do both at the same time. However, the priority is probably the Financial Decisions LPA, particularly if you are younger.

What happens if I don’t have an LPA?

Apart from the emotional strain you family will be experiencing when you are losing mental capacity, without an LPA in place, there will be these additional pressures:

  • you can’t access any bank accounts (even if you’re a joint bank account holder)
  • you can’t sell your home
  • you can’t discuss any care or medical treatments with doctors or social services.

You can claw back this power by seeking ‘Deputyship’ by going to the Court of Protection with a doctor’s letter that mental capacity has been lost. This is costly, but more importantly, it can take a long time to secure.

Why use Valley Willwriting?

The choices you make in an LPA are of vital importance and the forms themselves are far from easy to complete.  You are having to put yourself in the uncomfortable position of imagining yourself as being mentally incapacitated and all that this entails. From here, you have to decide who you want to make all your decisions about your finances and property and your health and welfare. Who to choose and why? Only once these decisions have been explored and made can you then start to think about completing the LPA forms.

I can guide you through this process at home, explain the legal requirements, discuss your concerns, offer objective advice if needed and once this is done, complete the forms and oversee all the signature requirements. If you wish to register, I can do that for you also. I believe that by using my services at Valley Willwriting, I can make this process far less stressful and more efficient, all within the comfort of your own home.