Lasting Powers of Attorney or LPA’s are something that many people do not fully understand. Some assume they only apply when you die, confusing them with Wills, others that they can only be used when someone loses their mental ability. The misconceptions are more common that you would think. So, what is an LPA and when should you think about them?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you or to act on your behalf if you are ever unable to or if you no longer want to make your own decisions. There are a number of reasons why you may want someone to act on your behalf and it may only be a short-term arrangement due to a temporary situation such as being in hospital or isolating at home. In other situations, it may be necessary to help with long term plans due to changes to your mental or physical capacity. An LPA is something that is there to help you and your loved when times may be tough or challenging.
But how do you know when you might need a Lasting Power of Attorney? For many people then actually don’t know that they need a Lasting Power of Attorney before it is too late. To arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney yourself you will need the mental capacity to do so. Mental capacity means the ability to make or communicate specific decisions at the time they need to be made. To have mental capacity you must understand the decision you need to make, why you need to make it, and the likely outcome of your decision. Some people may find that they have the mental capacity to make decisions about everyday things such as what to have for dinner or what to wear that day, but they may find more important and pressing matter such as finances or medical choices too much to cope with. Although, needing more time to understand or communicate doesn’t mean you lack mental capacity. For example, having dementia doesn't necessarily mean that someone is unable to make any decisions for themselves. Where someone is having difficulty communicating a decision, an attempt should always be made to overcome those difficulties and help the person decide for themselves.
However, there are times where you or a loved one may lose your mental capacity, and this is when a Lasting Power of Attorney can help. There are different types that can help in different situations.
Ordinary Powers of Attorney
An ordinary power of attorney is governed by the Powers of Attorney Act 1971. This covers decisions about your financial affairs and is valid while you have mental capacity. It is suitable if you need cover for a temporary period (hospital stay or holiday) or if you find it hard to get out, or you want someone to act for you. An ordinary power of attorney allows one or more person, known as your attorney, to make financial decisions on your behalf. It's only valid while you still have the mental capacity to make your own decisions. You can limit the power you give your attorney so that they can only deal with certain assets, for example, your bank account but not your home.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) is subject to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. An LPA covers decisions about your financial affairs, or your health and care. It comes into effect if you lose mental capacity, or if you no longer want to make decisions for yourself. You would set up an LPA if you want to make sure you're covered in the future. This is a way of giving someone you trust, your attorney, the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do so in the future. There are two types of LPA, LPA for financial decisions and LPA for health and care decisions.
An LPA for financial decisions can be used while you still have mental capacity or you can state that you only want it to come into force if you lose capacity and covers such financial decisions as buying and selling property, bank account management and paying bills. If you’re setting up an LPA for financial decisions, your attorney must keep accounts and make sure their money is kept separate from yours. You also have the right to ask for regular details of how much is spent and how much money you have, and this information can be sent to your solicitor or a family member if you lose mental capacity. This offers an extra layer of protection for you and your finances.
Lasting Power of Attorney documents can feel confusing, overwhelming and took much to take in. Craybeck Law is here to help make it easy, stress free and simple. We are able to talk you through all of your options and personalise a plan that works for you and your situation. We are even able to act as attorney for you if you would like your finances managed by a professional, independent, and trusted solicitor. We are here to help at times like this and our main focus is making sure that you feel safe and protected for the future regardless of what may come your way.
Call us today on 0800 254 5262 to find out what we can do to help you.