Sturminster Newton and district
Duncan Weir, a solicitor with QualitySolicitors Farnfields,
answers your queries on lasting powers of attorney (LPA)
An LPA is a legal document allowing you to appoint someone or some people (called attorneys) you trust to look after your property and financial affairs and/or your health and welfare if you need assistance in the future.
2. Who would I appoint as my attorney(s)?
You can appoint anyone you would like to act as your attorney(s). However, it is important that you trust your attorney(s) as they will have considerable power over your finances and/or health and welfare. Common choices are usually relatives, close friends or professionals.
3. What does the word ‚Äúlasting‚ÄĚ mean?
You can complete a general power of attorney which appoints people to look after your property and financial affairs during your lifetime. However, a general power of attorney will not continue if you lose mental capacity at some point in the future. A ‚Äėlasting‚Äô power of attorney will continue after any mental incapacity.
4. What decisions can my attorney(s) make?
There are two types of LPA. A health and welfareLPA and a property and financial affairsLPA. Under the health and welfare LPA, your attorney(s) can make decisions about where you live, your medical treatment, life-sustaining treatment, daily routine, etc. Your property and financial affairs attorney(s) will be able to manage your accounts, pay your bills, sell your property and anything else that may be needed during your lifetime.
5. When can my attorney(s) act under the LPA?
Before either type of LPA can be used, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Your attorney(s) will only be able to act under a health and welfare LPA if you are unable to make any decisions yourself. However, when your property and financial affairs LPA has been registered, you can ask your attorney(s) to act for you if you need assistance while you still have mental facilities.
6. Do I have to register the LPA straight away?
There is no requirement to register the document straight away. However, it is advisable to register it as soon as possible as invariably the document is needed at a time of crisis, such as a medical decision at a hospital or to deal with the late payment of bills. Registration takes a number of weeks; this delay can be avoided by registering the document straight away.
7. When should I make an LPA?
All too frequently people leave it too late to make an LPA. An LPA must be made when you have the mental capacity to understand the document you are completing. If you do not understand the document then it will not be possible to make an LPA.
8. Do I need a solicitor to make an LPA?
There is no legal requirement for a solicitor to prepare an LPA. However, solicitors who specialise in this area and have experience and expertise in drafting the document, will be able to advise you on making decisions about who and how many attorneys you should appoint and on what basis they should act for you. They will be able to advise on any restrictions, give guidance on payment arrangements that you would like to make in respect of your attorney(s) and assist with registering the documents with the OPG.
9. If I make an LPA, can I cancel it?
You can cancel your LPA at any time provided that you have the mental capacity to do so.
10. What happens if I do not make an LPA and I become mentally incapable of preparing one?
Nobody will be able to deal with your finances or have the legal authority to make personal welfare decisions, which can cause a great deal of stress for relatives or friends. They will have to apply to the Court of Protection to become a ‚Äúdeputy‚ÄĚ, which invariably is a much longer and more expensive process and is to be avoided if at all possible.
11. What if someone suspects that my attorney(s) are abusing their power and I have lost my mental ability to cancel the power?
If anybody suspects that your attorney(s) are abusing their power, they can report to the OPG who will investigate matters.
I see many people who have had the good foresight to make a will so that all their affairs are in order after they have died but fail to make the necessary arrangements to look after their affairs whilst they are still alive.
By completing a lasting power of attorney, you can ensure that should anything happen to you in the future, whether it be a mental or physical incapacity, you have appointed people to look after your affairs.
If you have any queries that have not been answered above, please do contact me.