What is a Power of Attorney?
It’s a document that you sign, to allow someone else to do something for you that you are usually expected to do for yourself- like sign a document, or consent to a form of medical treatment
What types are there?
- General Powers of Attorney and
- Lasting Powers of Attorney
The first is often used in business, or for a single specific task, where they won’t be needed in the future. They can often be very short.
The second is more complicated. This is because they last from when you make them until you die, so they need to cover lots of situations.
The Two Types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
You can make one for your property (Finance and affairs), bank accounts, pensions, and another for medical and care decisions (Health & Welfare).
The people who can sign you your behalf are called attorneys and you can have the same of different people to act for you in each type of LPA.
You can name one or more people to be your first attorneys. You can also name replacements, in case something happens to the first ones.
If you have more than one attorney you can choose whether or not they should act together, separately, or in some other way. You can also give some instructions to them, for how you would like things dealt with if you can no longer make decisions.
You can choose how and when the property one takes effect. Some people like to have it in force immediately- because it means the attorneys can help straight away. The medical one only comes into effect if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.
How you choose to set up the Lasting Power of Attorney depends on your circumstances, your family, your work, business, and the wishes you want to include. Getting it right is critical because if you get it wrong, you and your family might discover when it’s too late, that it didn’t cover something essential.
If that happens, almost the only way to make progress is a lengthy and complicated process to obtain a Court of Protection Order to get your affairs in order and a decision taken.
Why do I need LPAs?
It is a precautionary measure in case one suffers from a mental health ailment, or, one has an accident or a stroke, so while still capable of mentally managing one’s affairs, sadly one is physically incapable of doing so.
If you do not have a Property and Affairs LPA and cannot manage your affairs, then the Court of Protection will appoint a Receiver to deal with your assets. Appointing a Receiver will cost about £3,000. Furthermore, the Receiver will have to liaise with the Court every year and will have to seek orders to deal with your assets, incurring annual court costs all the while. Most Receivers find the process both frustrating and costly.
Appointing a Health and Welfare Attorney will mean that the individual’s carers will refer to your attorney. If there is no H & W in place, there is no facility to appoint one through the Court of Protection. Therefore, the carers hopefully in the best interests of the patient will make all care decisions, but with less consideration to the families wishes. By appointing an H & W Attorney, the donor is giving a clear and loud message to all who will be looking after him or her that this is the person they are to refer to, i.e. this is the person you trust to make personal decisions for you.
Making an LPA
When you make an LPA, you need to decide who the Attorney(s) should be. You can also appoint replacement Attorneys. All Attorneys will sign the LPA as you will too. A Certificate Provider (e.g. a solicitor) will also sign to confirm that you have understood the roles and responsibilities you are giving your attorneys. Finally, you will need to name someone who is to be notified about the LPA. Once the LPA is signed, and the person to be notified has been informed then it is registered at the Public Guardianship Office.