The idea that you might not be able to make decisions about yourself, by yourself, one day can be – frankly – daunting. But with a little forward planning, you can make sure that people you trust will be there to speak for you when the time comes. Here, we’ll be talking about lasting power of attorney: how it works, how to set it up and why it might be the right choice for you.

This lasting power of attorney guide covers:

 

What is a lasting power of attorney?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows someone else to make important decisions about your finances, healthcare or wellbeing if you’re not willing or able to do so.

It’s a helpful way to make sure that someone you trust will be able to manage your affairs if an accident or an illness makes it hard for you to do it yourself.

There are two types of lasting power of attorney:

  • Property and financial
  • Health and wellbeing

You can set up both, or just one, and they don’t have to be made at the same time.

Don't forget!
You can only make a lasting power of attorney agreement with somone if you're over 18 and have 'mental capacity'. This means that you have the ability to make decisions yourself, fully understanding the reasons why and the consequences of your decision.

 

Property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney

A property and financial affairs LPA lets your chosen attorney(s) manage your money and any property you might own.

For example, they will be able to:

  • Access your bank accounts
  • Pay your bills
  • Collect benefits and pensions
  • Sell your home on your behalf

A property and financial affairs LPA can be used as soon as you’ve registered it, as long as you give permission. Or you can set it up so that your chosen attorney can only take over if you have lost the ability to act yourself.

If you like, you can draft a property and financial LPA carefully so that it only gives your attorney certain powers, and not others. For example, you can make it so that they can access your bank account and pay bills, but can’t sell your house.

 

Health and wellbeing lasting power of attorney

A health and wellbeing LPA lets your chosen attorney(s) make important decisions about your medical care and how you live.

For example, they might be called upon to make choices about:

  • Your healthcare
  • Where you live and receive care (for example, a care home)
  • How you’re looked after – what you’ll wear, eat, your washing routine
  • Life-sustaining treatment (a living will can help with this as well)

A healthcare and wellbeing LPA can only be used if you lack the mental capacity to make your own decisions about health and social care. As with a property and financial LPA, you can draft it to give your attorney the power to act only in certain situations.

 

How to make a lasting power of attorney

  1. Choose who you’d like to act as your attorney
  2. Fill in the correct forms from the Office of the Public Guardian
  3. Get a certificate provider to sign your LPA
  4. Register the lasting power of attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian

 

1) Choosing the right person to be your attorney

Your attorney should be someone you trust to act in your best interests.  They don’t have to have legal training. You might choose someone close to you, such as a family member, partner or friend. Or you could hire a professional, like a solicitor, to act on your behalf.

If you like, you can appoint multiple attorneys. If so, you’ll need to decide whether you want them to:

  • Act jointly (working together on all decisions) or
  • Jointly and severally (working together on some decisions and separately on others)

What is the role of a lasting power of attorney? Your chosen attorney may well be wondering what they will be expected to do! To help them out, you might want to share the government guide here and the Age UK guide here with them before invoking a lasting power of attorney.

 

2) Filling in the lasting power of attorney forms

Need a hand?
You can call the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300 for advice on how to apply for lasting power of attorney.

You can get the forms to make a lasting power of attorney from the Office of the Public Guardian. They’re available here.

If you like, you can fill the forms out online, or you can print them off and fill them out by hand. You can get help from a friend, family member or solicitor if you need to.

 

3) Getting your lasting power of attorney signed by a certificate provider

Once you’ve filled out the right LPA forms, you and your attorney(s) will need to sign them in front of witnesses. They will also need to be signed by a certificate provider.

Your witnesses must be over 18. You can’t be a witness for your attorney’s signature, and they can’t be a witness for yours.

Your certificate provider must be someone who is qualified to tell if you’re in the right state of mind to make a lasting power of attorney. They will sign to say that they have confirmed that you have the mental capacity to understand the decision you’re making. They can be:

  • Someone who has known you well for at least two years – a colleague, friend or neighbour, for example
  • Someone who has the relevant professional training – your GP, a social worker or a solicitor, for example

There are also strict rules on who can’t be a certificate provider. They must not be:

  • The person you’re adding as an attorney on your LPA, or someone who was your attorney previously
  • Related to you or your chosen attorney (by blood or marriage)
  • Your partner, or your attorney’s partner
  • Your or your attorney’s business partner or employee
  • Someone who owns or works for the care home you live in

 

4) Registering the lasting power of attorney

Your attorney can’t use the lasting power of attorney until it’s been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. So, once the LPA forms are all complete and signed, you’ll need to post them to the Office of the Public Guardian along with the registration fee (see below). The address is on the forms.

The Office of the Public Guardian will check the forms and let you know about their decision within 10 days. If the LPA is approved, they’ll send the registered LPA to your and your attorneys to be used if or when it’s needed.

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Make a legally binding will today in just 10 minutes – click here.

 

 

How much does a lasting power of attorney cost?

The cost of setting up a lasting power of attorney is £82 for each LPA you want to register. This means that if you set up both types of LPA (financial and health), you will pay a total registration fee of £164.

If you claim certain means-tested benefits, or if you earn less than £12,000 a year, you could be eligible for a reduced fee.

You might decide to consult a solicitor during the process, especially if you want to be specific about what your attorney can and can’t do on your behalf. Solicitors’ fees for lasting power of attorney forms typically range from around £170 to £500, not including the registration fee.

Your attorney can claim reasonable expenses from carrying out their duties, such as travel costs, postage or admin fees, provided they keep accurate records and (ideally) hold onto their receipts.

 

How to revoke a lasting power of attorney

Need urgent help?
If you feel as though you might be in danger, you can call the local police or 999. Action on Elder Abuse also run a helpline on 080 8808 8141.

As long as you still have mental capacity, it’s easy to cancel a lasting power of attorney. All you have to do is send a document called a ‘deed of revocation’ to the Office of the Public Guardian. This needs to use the approved wording, which you can find here.

If you’ve lost mental capacity and someone close to you has concerns about your attorney, they can report them to the Office of the Public Guardian using the contact details here.

 

 

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