A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document which gives a person you choose, known as an Attorney, the legal authority to act on your behalf. You can have more than one Attorney and can also have replacement Attorneys who step in if your original Attorney can no longer act for you.
There are two different types of LPA - one which relates to financial matter, and one which relates to health matters.
A Property & Financial Affairs LPA
A Property & Financial Affairs LPA allows your Attorney to make decisions about your finances. This includes paying bills, collecting any income or benefits, selling or renting your property if necessary. This is subject to any restrictions or conditions which you may include in the LPA.
A Property & Financial Affairs LPA authorises your Attorney to act on your behalf at any time. This means that the LPA can be used by your Attorney regardless of your mental capacity. The advantage of this is that if you were mentally capable of dealing with your finances but were physically unable to deal with them, then your Attorney can step in and assist you. However, if you prefer, restrictions can be included to ensure your Attorney can only act when you are mentally incapable of doing so.
A Property & Financial Affairs LPA does not take any authority away from you. You may continue dealing with your financial affairs, with as much, or as little, assistance from your Attorney as you wish.
Everyone hopes that they will always be able to manage their affairs and make their own decisions. Unfortunately, this isn't always true. It is therefore essential to make an LPA while you are still capable of deciding who you would want to make the decisions if you cannot.
If you do not make an LPA and you then lose mental capacity anyone can apply to the Court of Protection for a Court Order to give them the authority to act on your behalf. Not only can this cost a lot more than a Power of Attorney but it also takes a substantial amount of time, and it may be that the person who applies is not the person you would choose to deal with your affairs. It is therefore essential that you act while you can, to ensure your wishes are implemented.
Your Attorney can be anyone over the age of 18 who is mentally competent. This may be your spouse or child, another family member, a friend or a professional.
While your Attorney has a legal obligation to act in your best interests at all times, your choice of Attorney is still very important. Your Attorney needs to be someone you trust to make decisions for you and who is happy to act in this role.
Before an LPA can be used by your Attorney, it needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This process can take several months. Many people choose to register their LPA straight away so that it is ready for use in the future when needed.
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