Nobody knows what the future has in store, so it’s important to ensure you have a level of control should the worst happen by arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney. But what are the different types of Lasting Power of Attorney and why do you need to consider getting both in place? We explain how they work and the benefits for you and your family.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to choose a trusted “attorney” to look after your interests should you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions. You can choose more than one person to be your attorney, for example, adult children or brothers and sisters.
In some cases, you can use one type of LPA if you still have capacity but would like someone to give you extra support with your financial decisions. There are two types of LPA: Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare.
Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
A Property & Financial Affairs LPA enables someone to support you, either when you have lost capacity or when you need assistance to pay bills and manage your money. This legal document provides access to bank accounts, investments, and the ability to pay the mortgage and household bills. It also allows someone to buy, sell or make repairs to a property. You can restrict the types of decisions you would like your attorney(s) to make.
Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
A Health & Welfare LPA allows someone to make important decisions about your health, care and welfare when you are no longer able due to a loss of mental capacity. By definition, losing mental capacity includes the inability to communicate or make specific decisions. By law you need to be able to understand the decision, the reason you need to make it and the potential consequences. This LPA is often used to help people manage their care needs.
When should you use a Lasting Power of Attorney?
There are a variety of reasons why you might need someone to act on your behalf to make important decisions and this could happen at any age. If you had an accident and were admitted to hospital, you might need help with your finances such as paying your bills. If you were diagnosed with a serious condition such as dementia, then you would want a trusted person to make decisions about your future health and social care.
Lasting Powers of Attorney tend to come into force when people no longer have the mental capacity to make their own decisions. The problem is that the LPA needs to be in place before this happens as this legal document needs to be signed by the named person. Therefore, it is important not to wait until it’s too late to get both types of LPA in place.
What happens if I don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
If you developed dementia without a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare in place, the local authorities would take control of any decisions relating to your care. You would not have a choice, for example, in the care home you live in. Any decisions around your medical care, diet, social contact and activities would also be taken out of your control.
Here is a case study of what can happen when someone only has one type of Lasting Power of Attorney in place:
"Our client had a mentally disabled brother. She was his Attorney for Property & Finance, but not Health & Welfare. Her brother had some medical investigations. But when our client took him to get the results from the hospital, the Consultant wouldn’t let her in because she didn’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare. As a result, the hospital told her brother that he had inoperable cancer and he received this information on his own."
How do you apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney?
First, you would choose your attorney(s); these need to be people you can trust to make important decisions on your behalf. There are some forms to fill in and you can register your LPA directly with the Office of the Public Guardian, which can take up to 20 weeks. Our specialist Wills, Trusts and Probate solicitors can also arrange these on your behalf.
If you need advice on Lasting Powers of Attorney, please get in touch or email: email@example.com to arrange a face-to-face or telephone appointment.