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What is a Lasting Power of Attorney, and when should I make one?

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows you to give a trusted individual or individuals the power to make decision for you. Your ‘Attorneys’ are given this power when you lose mental capacity, or if you do not wish to make decisions for yourself any longer. There are two types of LPA:

1. LPA for Health and Welfare

Generally, an attorney will have the power to choose such things as your accommodation; your medical care; or diet or what kind of social interactions you have. This type of LPA only comes into effect once you have lost mental capacity.

2. LPA for Property and Financial Affairs.

This type LPA gives an attorney the power over your investments; bills and rents; property transactions and mortgages; and even collecting welfare and tax credits. This LPA is more flexible, you can elect for it to come into effect either whilst you still have mental capacity or once you have lost it.

Why should I make an LPA?

Granting an LPA gives you choice. It gives you control over who can make decisions on your behalf and how they should act. If you lose mental capacity without an LPA in place, then applications will have to be made to the Court of Protection (COP) for a Deputyship. A Deputyship can be granted to anyone over the age of 18 that has the requisite financial skills and does not face objections to their application. This could be a trusted family member, but it could also be a complete stranger or someone you would not wish to have control over you.

Applications for a deputyship cost £371.00, can take 6 months or more to process and can only be made once capacity has been lost. The legal costs for preparing a deputyship application can be in the thousands. On the other hand, an LPA can be completed and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) whilst you still have capacity – registration takes between 4 to 6 weeks and legal costs should only cost a few hundred pounds (excluding an application fee of £82.00). Severe backlogs at both the OPG and COP have meant that applications are taking longer than usual, but an LPA is still likely to be quicker. Having an LPA in place means that your attorney can act as soon as mental capacity has been lost, which is a time where such an appointment is badly needed, at a much more reasonable cost.

These dangers are very real. Studies have shown that 1/3rd of people over 65 develop dementia in the UK, while less than 1% of the population has an LPA in place. Granting an LPA now will give you peace of mind, and leave you safe in the knowledge that your affairs will be managed in an agreeable fashion. It will also remove the burden from loved ones who may otherwise be left to handle a responsibility they were not prepared for.

How do I make an LPA?

The benefits of having an LPA in place are clear, and we therefore suggest that all our client’s consider. Mercers have a large and experienced Private Client Department who have prepared and advised on countless LPAs. Please get in touch with a member of the team to discuss how we can assist you.

Written by Tom Spratley – Trainee Solicitor.

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