A Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that appoints a trusted person (your ‘attorney’) to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to make them yourself. This might happen if you are ill or injured or, more often, simply as a result of getting older. There are two types of LPA:
Property & Financial Affairs
Your appointed attorney will be allowed to manage your bank accounts, property and investments, deal with issues arising from your property and investments look after your home and pay your bills and even sell your property. You decide whether you want this power of attorney to be eligible for use immediately or only if you no longer have mental capacity.
Health & Welfare
This allows you give the legal power to someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf about things like your medical treatment and where you should live in case you later become unable to make decisions for yourself.
You’ll also need to choose whether or not you want your attorney to be able to make decisions about whether or not to continue with medical treatment if there is no chance you will recover.
You decide whether your attorney can be allowed to make this decision, if you are unable to take these yourself. If you choose not to, then all decisions about life-sustaining treatment will be made by your healthcare team.
Anyone can become physically or mentally incapable as a result of an illness or accident regardless of how old they are and you should only make an LPA while you have mental capacity to do so. Therefore, even if you are young and healthy, it is important to think about who you might want to take decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to and should the need arise.
Anyone can be an attorney, provided that they are over 18. The most important criteria is that you trust them implicitly. This might be one or several of your family members or it can be a trusted friend or professional adviser. In the case of an attorney appointed to a Property and Financial Affairs LPA only, he or she must not be a bankrupt.
If your appointed attorney, for whatever reason is unable to act for you in the future, you can appoint a replacement attorney.
You can give your attorney instructions about how they should manage your property. For example, you may feel very strongly that your home should not be sold. There are also rules which apply to all attorneys about how they should behave. They are not allowed to spend your money on themselves and there are very strict limits about how much of your property they can give away as gifts to others. If an attorney doesn’t follow these rules, then the Court of Protection has the power to remove them and order them to pay your money back.
In most circumstances, you are able to make your LPA yourself. However, it is often helpful to involve a solicitor to guide you through the process and to assist in its drafting especially in more complicated circumstances.