The cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation prices have left many feeling uncertain about their finances, which is why protecting your family and planning for the future should be one of your top priorities as we enter a new year soon.
Below Court of Protection Manager, Tammie Woods, and Senior Lawyer, Lucy Hollands tell us how setting up a lasting power of attorney (LPA) can help you find peace of mind and provide the reassurance you’re searching for.
Q: What is a LPA?
A: It’s a legal document that enables another person to make decisions on your behalf, should you no longer be able to. You can decide who to appoint as your attorney – many people choose a trusted relative or friend. When picking someone to act as your attorney, there are a few important things to consider. For example:
- Are they someone reliable?
- Do they take good care of their health and finances?
- Are they willing to take on this position?
It’s best to speak with the individual you have in mind before selecting them for the role. You should discuss what decisions you want them to make, check they are comfortable becoming your attorney, and that they understand what responsibilities this will entail. You can also appoint a solicitor to act in this capacity. There are two types of LPAs that you can make. One enables an individual to look after your property and finances, enabling them to pay bills, collect benefits and handle affairs such as selling your home. The other allows an attorney to deal with issues of your health and welfare. They can make decisions regarding your daily care and where you will live should your health decline.
Q: When will I use my LPA?
A: Even if you create an LPA, this doesn’t mean that you need to use It right away. Setting up an LPA is like taking out an insurance policy. It’s something to have in reserve, should a situation arise where you can no longer make decisions by yourself. We refer to such instances as ‘having lost mental capacity.’ This can occur if you are temporarily or permanently impaired mentally, which can happen if you suffer an injury or if you are diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. You may even use your LPA in specific isolated incidents, such as if you are out of the country travelling and need someone to handle your payments while you are away.
It’s also important to note, just because you make an LPA now, this does not mean you are relinquishing control of your finances and welfare to someone else. You will remain in control of your affairs and can specify the power your attorney has.
Q: Do I need to wait until I’m older to set up a LPA?
A: Absolutely not. It’s a common misconception that making an LPA is a decision only elderly individuals should consider, as you may need one sooner than you realise. Appointing an LPA is something all adults should do and can benefit from. Anyone over the age of 18 who possesses full mental capacity can create an LPA. It’s always better to do this sooner rather than later, as an LPA can’t be set up after capacity is lost.
Q: What are the benefits of having a LPA?
A: The biggest advantage of having a LPA is that no matter what may happen, you can rest reassured knowing that there is a plan in place and there is someone who can look after your affairs in the way you would like them to. It can also help to protect your family financially, as well as ensure your loved ones won’t be left to handle the situation alone. Some people believe that if they have a general power of attorney already in place, then they are covered, but these do not remain valid after you lose mental capacity, however, a LPA does. Without one, your financial and health decision making may be placed in the care of someone appointed by the Court of Protection. Only by applying to them will relatives gain the right to make decisions on your behalf, which can be an arduous and expensive process, and place more stress on your loved ones.
Q: Is it best to consult a solicitor to set up a LPA?
A: To avoid any potential mistakes or delays down the line, consulting a legal expert to assist with making an LPA is always advisable. To be effective, there is a strict timeline, and it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Our talented team of legal experts can ensure every step is taken, so the registration process is completed correctly and efficiently. They will consult you through every stage of the process, offer bespoke guidance, and make it simple for you to put an LPA in place, so it’s ready to use whenever you may need it. This way you will have one less thing to worry about.
Q: Is the way the LPA is created and registered changing?
A: The Powers of Attorney Act 2023 became law in September 2023 and aims to make the process faster, easier, more accessible and secure. The Office of the Public Guardian felt that the changes follow a need to update and streamline the service after a significant increase in LPA applications in recent years. Even though this has become law, the online system is being developed by the Office of the Public Guardian and we will therefore provide a further update when we have one.
For more advice on how to make a lasting power of attorney, contact Tammie Woods on 01727 738211 or email email@example.com. Alternatively contact Lucy Hollands on 01727 229368 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.