I have been advising clients on Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s) for 8 years and many clients have the same questions and concerns. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
What is an LPA? An LPA provides powers while you are living, it is a document which gives powers to your attorney(s) to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. There are two types of LPA:
- One that governs your property and financial affairs
- And another which deals with your health and welfare.
There is no obligation to create both.
Why make an LPA? The possibility of losing mental capacity can be a distressing thought and is often seen as something that does not need to be considered until the future. However, your LPA needs to be arranged whilst you still have capacity and is best made sooner rather than later. I have made LPA’s for clients in the early stages of dementia, but I then need to thoroughly assess their mental capacity which makes it a longer process, which can be more distressing for the client. Don’t assume your spouse or partner will automatically be given the right to make these decisions for you.
When would I need an LPA? There could be a number of situations in which you need an LPA – If you are the sole earner in your household and you lose capacity without an LPA your family may be unable to pay bills without going through the Court of Protection – a costly and stressful process, if you have dementia an LPA will allow your family to make decisions for you, if you are a business owner, you may wish to appoint attorneys under your Property and Financial LPA who will be able to make important decisions about the continuity of your business if you lose capacity. Capacity could potentially be lost at any time, either through an accident, a stroke, or a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s and with growing reports of 18-45 year olds suffering from mental health problems it can happen to people of any age
Who should I choose as my attorney(s)? Your attorneys should be people that you trust, and professionals can be appointed if needed. You can appoint up to 4 attorneys and they have a duty to act in your best interest.
What does capacity mean? The Mental Capacity Act is the piece of legislation that governs this. To have capacity a person must be able to:
- Understand the information that is relevant to the decision they want to make
- Retain the information long enough to be able to make the decision
- Weigh up the information available to make the decision.
- Communicate their decision by any possible means, including talking using sign language, or through simple muscle movements such as blinking an eye or squeezing a hand.
What are the responsibilities of an attorney? A Property and Financial LPA can be used while you still have capacity, but the Health and Welfare LPA can only be used once you have lost capacity. You can restrict the rights you give your attorneys under a Property and Financial LPA and they should be someone you trust as they may be responsible for investing your money, paying your bills, arranging the purchase or sale of property etc. They would be expected to keep records on what they spend etc and should keep your money separate from their own.
How much does it cost? I charge £350 for a single Lasting Power of Attorney or £500 for a pair. This includes 2 home visits and completion of the registration process. You may also be required to pay the registration fee of up to £82 per document.
How long does it take? Typically, the whole process from initial meeting to registration takes approximately 10 weeks.
Can I do my LPA myself? There is no obligation to use a professional to make your LPA. However, if there are any issues with the forms, they could be rejected, and you will have to pay the registration fees again on resubmission. It is advisable to get expert support and advice.