Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
After your Will, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is one of the most important documents you will ever sign. If you lose capacity during your lifetime, an LPA is the only way to ensure your health, care, medical, property and financial decisions can be managed how you would want them to be, by the persons you trust to manage them.
Most people want their affairs to be handled by a spouse, partner or children: people you trust to take care of you, and who have your best interests at heart. If you do not assign this role yourself, it’s a long, exasperating and expensive procedure to have the Court of Protection rule on who will deal with your affairs if you lose capacity.
You can avoid having the Court of Protection impose their decisions on you and your family by signing a Lasting Power of Attorney whilst you have the mental capacity to do so
Polls confirm that fear about the development of dementia in old age has dramatically increased.
A YouGov poll of more than 2,000 people found that 31% feared the onset of dementia the most as they age; substantially more than getting cancer, and even more than death itself. It is a little publicised fact that one person develops dementia every three minutes in the UK.
Currently 820,000 people in Britain are thought to suffer from dementia, with the most common cause being Alzheimers disease. As the UK population continues to age, numbers of sufferers are spiralling; within two decades, one in three pensioners will die with the condition.
To avoid leaving your loved ones having to make difficult decisions alone, call The Will & Trust Company now.
You can create two types
of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA):
Property & Financial Affairs LPA
This allows you to appoint people you trust, usually two or more people, who will ensure that all your property and financial affairs will be looked after, in the event that you lose capacity. For example, they are authorised to operate your bank account, pay your bills, sort out your tax and decide what to do with your home. You can, however, impose restrictions: eg, prevent them from selling a second home, which you had already bequeathed to a relative in your Will.
Health & Welfare LPA (LPAHW)
This allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions about your health, care and welfare in the event that you lose capacity. This includes decisions to refuse or consent to treatment on your behalf, and/or what medical treatments you are given; deciding where you live, what you eat and drink, your travel arrangements and who visits you, and even what you wear.
How many people should you appoint and whom?
You may not be able to check up on your appointed attorney yourself if you become incapable, so it may be a good idea to appoint more than one person to help avoid any abuse of the responsibility. Choose people you can trust to act in your best interests, and people that are capable of doing the job. Consider how well they look after their own financial affairs and whether you can trust them to use your money to meet your needs
What happens if I do not have an LPA?
From the age of 18 the law treats us as adults. If you have an accident or sudden illness that prevents you from having the mental capacity to make your own decisions, the ability to make those decisions does not automatically pass to your next of kin, as many people mistakenly believe.
Unless you have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, your loved ones will not be able to act on your behalf and will potentially be prevented from carrying out your wishes about your care and medical treatment, and many other decisions detailed below.
Should you need care, Social Services could decide which care home you go into, while taking full control of your finances to help fund your care fees. Your spouse, partner or family will simply have no say in the matter. They cannot demand you are moved to a different care home if they are unhappy with the level of care you are receiving. All they can do is request a move, and this may well fall on deaf ears!
If you do not set up an LPA for your financial and health decisions, initially someone appointed by the Court of Protection (which could be a solicitor) would be appointed to make financial and property decisions on your behalf. Social Services would normally be appointed to look after health, care and medical decisions. Many people are surprised to hear this. Your loved ones can then apply to the Court of Protection for a Court-Appointed Deputyship Order, which essentially grants the same powers as an LPA, after you have lost mental capacity. This process can take up to a year, cost thousands of pounds in court and solicitor’s fees and, once granted, there will continue to be a significant amount of work, oversight and governance from the Court of Protection over the powers they have been given and the decisions made on behalf of their loved one. There are also significant ongoing costs such as insurance bonds and annual accounts to maintain.
For these reasons alone, setting up your Lasting Powers of Attorney in advance is by far the best choice.
Is an LPAHW different from a Living Will?
A Living Will, which is also known as an Advance Directive, is a written statement setting out your express wishes regarding particular aspects of your care, such as the refusal of medical treatment. It is a binding legal document, meaning that medical professionals must follow the documented instructions.
An LPAHW will allow attorneys to make decisions on a Donor’s behalf, whereas a Living Will is a set of binding instructions directly from the Donor themself. In some cases, it is possible to use both documents to ensure that wishes are adhered to as closely as possible in the event of loss of capacity.
By its very nature, a Living Will has a specific focus and set of instructions, most focused around life-sustaining treatment. There are, however, a whole host of other medical and care needs you may encounter in your lifetime (and mental capacity is lost). An LPAHW allows your attorney’s to have the flexibility to make choices and decisions on your behalf in a wide variety of situations, depending on the particular circumstances at the time.
Talking to your GP; selecting a care home; creating a Care Plan with Social Services: all these decisions and more would be covered under an LPAHW.
What is a Property and Affairs LPA (LPAPA) and why are they so important?
A Property and Affairs LPA allows appointed Attorneys to deal with the property and financial aspects of your estate, either when you direct them to, or when you are no longer physically or mentally able to undertake these matters yourself. This can include everyday duties like paying bills or collecting pensions, but is equally as important for the bigger decisions, like selling property or paying Care Home Fees, maintaining and managing your Investments and making sure you have enough money to provide for your needs for the rest of your days.
Without an LPAPA, banks, financial institutions and utilities companies will not speak to your loved ones or allow them any information or control over your assets. Upon being notified that someone has lost mental capacity, many financial institutions will freeze their accounts until proof of the LPAPA and who the Attorneys are is registered with them. This can apply even to joint accounts.
How much does a Lasting Power of Attorney cost?
Aside from any professional costs to draw up the documents and process the registration application, there is a fee to register a Power of Attorney. In England and Wales this is £82. It is a little less in Scotland, and considerably more in Northern Ireland. There can be fee remissions or exemptions in some circumstances: this can be for those on low income or in receipt of certain benefits.
Please be aware that it is £82 each for the LPAHW and LPAPA, so if you register both, the fees will be £164.
We always recommend registering your LPAs once they are signed. You can save money upfront by delaying this, but the documents cannot be used unless and until they are registered.
While it is possible to create your own Lasting Powers of Attorney, this can be complex and there are many easily made potential mistakes which can invalidate your LPA. For that reason, we recommend that you seek professional help and advice from our experts for this important legal document. Otherwise, any errors made will only come to light when the document needs to be used, and it will be too late to change it.
However, we recognise that for some of you an online solution is required, so we have distilled as much of our expertise and knowledge as is possible on this subject into an Online Lasting Powers of Attorney Writing Service, as part of our Online Will Writing Service. This will guide you through a step-by-step process to minimise the risk of error or ill-advised choices, and you can also ask us to check the document for you prior to submission.
The Will & Trust Company Powers of Attorney Services
We pride ourselves on being able to offer our clients a full suite of Powers of Attorney services at highly competitive prices:
- General Power of Attorney: £140 inclusive of VAT
- Property and Finance LPA: £396 inclusive of VAT
- Health and Welfare LPA: £396 inclusive of VAT
- Property & Finance and Health & Welfare LPA Package (single person): £516 inclusive of VAT
- Property & Finance and Health & Welfare LPA Package (couples): £756 inclusive of VAT
(Includes processing registration but not Court Application fees)