What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)? Created by The Mental Capacity Act, there are two types, one covering financial affairs and the other covering your personal welfare, eg where you are to live, consenting to/refusing/extent of medical treatment and day-to-day care including diet, dress and how you spend your day. It is a legal document under which you (the Donor) can appoint one or more persons (Attorneys) to act on your behalf. The LPA will continue to be lawful and effective should the Donor lose the mental capacity to make decisions on such matters at some time in the future.
Your Attorney can be authorised to deal with any matters on your behalf relevant to your financial affairs which you are able to do legally yourself. This can relate to savings, bank accounts, property, investments and running a business. As long as you have mental capacity an LPA can be revoked or changed at any time.
Choosing an LPA allows you plenty of scope to set out in advance trusted family and/ or friends to make decisions for you should you ever lose the capacity to make those decisions for yourself. With people living longer these days, it is likely that an increasing number will develop illnesses as they get older affecting their mental capacity.
Without an LPA the only way for a family to help you to make decisions if you lose mental capacity is to apply to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a ‘Deputy’. This is a long and expensive process also requiring annual accounts to be filed.
Up to five Attorneys can be appointed in an LPA dealing with property and financial affairs as opposed to two Attorneys for an LPA dealing with health and welfare. You can specify in your LPA any matters which you do not wish your Attorneys to have the power to make decisions about.
The only time an LPA can be validly created is when the Donor has mental capacity to run their own affairs. Unfortunately, by the time a person starts to lose that capacity, it is too late to create the LPA. Therefore, an LPA should be created sooner rather than later. It does not have to be registered immediately, but only when the Donor wishes or needs it to be registered. This makes an LPA more secure and less open to abuse.
In addition, an LPA needs to be accompanied by a certificate signed by someone like a solicitor or a doctor confirming that you understand what it means to grant someone power of attorney over your affairs and you are entering into it freely.