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Lasting Power of Attorney - Planning for the unexpected

February 11, 2016

Few of us want to consider the possibility that we may be unable to make decisions for ourselves but the reality is that approximately 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, of these 40,000 are under the age of 65.  With forecasts predicting this will rise to over 1 million by 2025 (Alzheimer’s Society) it is becoming a reality for many.  Nobody knows what the future holds but by planning ahead you can ensure your wishes are carried out and alleviate the burden on those close to you.

One way of doing this is to make a Lasting Power Of Attorney (LPA), which would enable the people you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so yourself.   An LPA is, quite simply,  a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.  To make an LPA you must be 18 or over and, crucially, have mental capacity (The ability to make your own decisions) – for this reason more people are choosing to set up their LPA earlier in life.

LPAs were introduced in October 2007 and replaced the Enduring Power Of Attorney (EPA).  An EPA created before October 2007 remains valid.

There are two types of LPA, the first deals with Property and Financial Affairs – your attorney would be able to manage your bank or building society account, pay your bills, collect your benefits or pension or sell your home.  This type of LPA can start (with your permission) before you lose mental capacity and may take the worry of dealing with your own finances away.

The second type of LPA deals with Health and Welfare  - your attorney would make decisions on things like what you wear, what you eat, where you live, what medical care you would had.  They would also make decisions on care homes or life sustaining treatment.  This type of LPA would only start when you lose mental capacity.

We recommend that you choose your attorney(s) carefully – it could be a relative, friend, spouse, partner or someone acting in a professional capacity but essentially is should be someone you trust, who would always have your best interests at heart.  When you have made your decision you should give that person time to think about their role as it carries great responsibility.

If you decide to appoint more than one attorney, another decision you need to make is whether you want them to always act ‘jointly’ which would mean decisions could not be made without the agreement of all parties or whether you would prefer an arrangement where they would act ‘jointly and severally’ meaning that for some decisions they would decide jointly but each would have the ability for make some decisions alone.

Once completed, your LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for it to be valid.  For each LPA you register the OPG charges a fee of £110 currently.  Registration can take at least 4 weeks.

Our legal team would be happy to discuss your options in more detail together with the pros and cons of each course of action.

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