A Lasting Power of Attorney or LPA, is a legal document that lets you appoint people (known as ‘Attorneys’) to make decisions on your behalf. 

Usually prepared by a wills and probate solicitor, the idea behind an LPA is to manage and safeguard your affairs in the event of you lacking the ability to do so. Getting older, having an accident or becoming seriously ill in the future are all situations which can result in the need for assistance in this regard.

Many people believe that their spouse/partner will automatically have the right to look after their affairs if any of these events occur.  This however is not the case.  Where a person loses their capacity to make their own decisions assets in their sole name will effectively  become frozen until a Deputyship Order is obtained from the Court of Protection authorising a deputy to act in connection with that person’s property and affairs.  This can take many months (the Court’s current estimate for dealing with matters is between 16 – 21 weeks) and can prove to be an expensive exercise. 

Creating an LPA whilst having the capacity to do so avoids your family having to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order in the future.

Essentially there are two types of LPA: –

  1. Property and Affairs.  This lets you choose a person or people to make decisions about money and property for you for example, collecting State benefits, paying bills and selling your home.  This type of LPA can be used once it has been registered with your permission;
  2. Health and Welfare.  This LPA allows you to choose one person or more to make decisions on your behalf about things such as your daily routine, medical care, moving into a care home or whether to administer life-sustaining treatment.  This type of LPA can only be used when you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

An LPA essentially appoints an attorney or attorneys to stand in your shoes in making key decisions about your financial affairs or welfare.  It follows therefore that the attorney should be someone who you trust implicitly and can be relied upon to act in your best interests.   People typically appoint close family members or professional advisers as their attorneys.

There is little doubt that as you approach older age, having the foresight to prepare an LPA may well prevent distress and delay in the eventuality of you becoming unable to make decisions for yourself. For more information or to speak to one of our wills and probate solicitors about preparing an LPA, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

By Phil Taylor, Wills and Probate Solicitor