Having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is an excellent way to prepare for later life. You may know someone who has made an LPA, or you have been recommended to make one yourself. But whilst you may be aware of LPAs in general, it is important to really familiarise and understand the benefits these can bring.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint someone as your ‘attorney’ to help you make decisions for you or on your behalf. There may be a time when you are considered to lack ‘mental capacity’ and need someone to make decisions for you.

What is Mental Capacity?

Mental capacity means your ability to understand information and make decisions about your life. Having mental capacity means you can make your own decisions and understand the consequences of those decisions.

Why a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

They are very important documents. They allow you to choose someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if something happens, such as an illness or accident and you are unable to make decisions for yourself. They are excellent documents as a way of planning ahead for the future for you and your loved ones.

What happens if I don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

If you lose mental capacity and do not have an LPA in place, someone wishing to act on your behalf will need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy. Your Deputy will then be able to make decisions on your behalf. This can be a lengthy and expensive Court process. You also do not get to choose who you want your Deputy to be.

What is a Financial Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

Under a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, your attorneys can make decisions on your behalf, about things like dealing with your banks, building societies and utility providers, or even selling your home.

Does a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) cover Health and Welfare?

It can do, if you also make a Health and Welfare LPA.

Under a Health and Welfare LPA, your attorneys can manage your everyday medical and personal care decisions, such as the care and support you receive. You must also choose whether your attorneys can give or refuse consent to life-sustaining treatment on your behalf.

What is Life-Sustaining Treatment?

This is any treatment that aims to prolong your life without changing the underlying medical condition. For example, life-sustaining treatment can be antibiotics if you have pneumonia to lifesaving surgery such as a heart bypass.

Who decides if you have Mental Capacity or not?

When entering a LPA, an independent Certificate Provider must  sign the document. This Certificate Provider is an independent person who will confirm that you are making the document of your own free will, without pressure and you understand the implications of what you are doing – with the mental capacity to do so.

Is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) valid after death?

No, a Lasting Power of Attorney ends when you pass away. The attorneys can longer manage your affairs. With this in mind, it is important to have a Will in place to ensure your affairs are looked after when you have passed away.

Are Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) still valid?

Yes, if you signed your EPA before the 1st October 2007. These documents were then replaced by a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

However, it is very important to have this document reviewed as EPAs are only valid for property and financial matters and must be registered if the donor is losing or has lost mental capacity.

At Ellisons, we understand that making a Lasting Power of Attorney can be a daunting task. We have an experienced team on hand to make the process straightforward and worry free. Contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate team, who will be able to guide you through the options and advise you on the best way forward.