By Nikki Barnes, Solicitor
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is something many of us need to consider as we get older. It is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to step in and make decisions on your behalf if and when you lack the capacity to do so.
What is an LPA?
LPAs come in two different types – Health and Welfare and Property and Financial Affairs. A Health and Welfare LPA will give your Attorney (trusted third party) the authority to make decisions about circumstances such as living arrangements, medical care and social wellbeing. The law requires the Attorney to ensure that decisions that can still be taken by an individual remain within their control. The Property and Financial Affairs LPA is designed to protect financial interests of the person who is the subject of the LPA (the ‘Donor’). It will give the Attorney the ability to make decisions about matters such as withdrawing money from bank accounts, property dealings, tax, benefits and pensions.
What are the basic rules for the Attorney?
An Attorney must make decisions that are in the best interests of the Donor at all times or they can be removed from their position by the Court of Protection. Most people who set up an LPA will choose a close friend or family member as this provides peace of mind that your interests will be properly considered. It is worth noting you can also choose more than one Attorney and choose a replacement in the event that your preferred Attorney cannot act.
What happens if there isn’t an LPA?
If a person loses the mental capacity to make their own decisions and there is no LPA in place then it might become necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy. Not only does the lack of protection leave you vulnerable for a period of time, but this is a much more time consuming and expensive process than setting up an LPA.
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