Perhaps you belong to the minority of people in the UK who have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) set up. If not, now may be a good time to consider getting one arranged. Millions of people don't have one, and yet without one, you have no say in who makes decisions which could have a significant impact on your life.
What is an LPA?
A LPA is a legally binding document used to nominate people to look after your welfare and make decisions for you in the event that you become unable to do so yourself. There are two types of LPA, one relates to your finances and property, and the other to your health. You can choose to prepare either or both.
Your LPAs will be taken into account by key people involved in your finances and care, such as doctors and nursing home staff, banks and local authorities.
There are just two conditions which must be met if you wish to make a LPA. Firstly, you must be capable of making your own decisions, and secondly you must be 18 years or over.
Finance and property: one or more people of your choice can make decisions for you regarding your benefits, paying bills and selling your property.
Health and welfare: one or more nominated people can make decisions on your behalf about matters such as how you are cared for, medical issues, whether you need to move into a nursing home, and end of life care.
Preparing an LPA
The process for preparing the LPA is straightforward. You need to choose who you would like to appoint for your power of attorney, and ask them if they are willing to agree to take this on for you.
Next, complete the forms either online or you can ask for them to be sent to you by post so you can fill them out on paper. Get your form signed by a witness to show that you have completed it without external pressure.
Finally, register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian. Each LPA costs £130 to register, and it can take several weeks to be done. Get help from a solicitor if you need it.
Anyone can be appointed provided that they are aged 18 or over and are able to make their own decisions. It can be a family member. In the case of a finance LPA, there is also a requirement that the person must not be bankrupt. The decisions which could be made on your behalf are very important, so consider carefully who you would like to entrust these decisions to.
If you already have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place, you do not need to replace it; these were phased out several years ago, but existing documents are still valid. Taking the time to get a LPA drawn up gives you the assurance that you have someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf should you ever need this.