If you or someone close to you may need someone to take decisions on your behalf in future, a complete Lasting Power of Attorney Guide is very helpful.
What does an LPA mean? What decisions are involved? How do you register? How much does it cost?
Here is everything you need to know at what can be a very challenging time:
What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that gives one person the authority to make important life decisions on behalf of another.
This is usually only done if the person giving legal authority to another knows they will lose mental capacity at some time in the future.
Because of the importance of the decisions involved, to give Lasting Power of Attorney to someone else a donor has to be over 18. They also need to demonstrate they have what’s called the “mental capacity” to do so.
What is mental capacity?
Mental capacity is defined as the ability to make a decision. This doesn’t have to be a big decision. It could be something simple, like what to eat for lunch.
Anyone can lose mental capacity as a result of accident, illness, age, or some combination of the above. Mental capacity can also return after time – this is often the case with dementia, following a stroke, or with certain kinds of mental illness.
A loss of mental capacity can also be permanent, following serious brain injury for example.
Who assesses mental capacity?
The person who is considering giving Lasting Power of Attorney to someone else usually assesses their own mental capacity, normally with a clear eye on the future.
Assessing someone else’s mental capacity can be complicated. For instance, even if they make what seems to you to be a strange or poor decision, you cannot say they lack mental capacity.
Equally, if someone can’t make decisions at one time, it doesn’t mean they will always lack the ability to make decisions for themselves.
In difficult cases like this, it’s usual to get a professional opinion from a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Understanding Lasting Power of Attorney
Before you register, it’s important to know that there are two different types of LPA:
- LPA for financial and property decisions – empowers someone to make financial decisions like paying your bills or dealing with property you own. This can be for all your financial decision or just some of them.
- LPA for health and care decisions – empowers someone to decide on your medical care, including where you will live and even what you will eat or the people you will see.
How to register for Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney has to be registered before it is valid. This must be done with an official government body called the Office of the Public Guardian. This requires following a specific process:
- Fill out several different application forms – this must be done correctly if you want the process to be smooth, meaning it’s usually a good idea to use a Lasting Power of Attorney solicitor.
- Wait for the court process – this can take anywhere up to three months and sometimes longer.
- Attorney acceptance – three weeks are allotted for the chosen attorney to accept, reject, or raise issues about the power of attorney they have been given.
- Registration granted for financial LPA – after registration, a financial LPA can usually be used right away.
- Registration granted for medical LPA – even after registration, a healthcare LPA usually won’t come into effect until the donor has lost mental capacity.
Registering an Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney is no longer something you can apply for. This essentially became a finance and property LPA when the Mental Capacity Act came into effect in 2007.
EPAs granted before 2007 remain valid, though some may have had mental capacity clauses added. You can’t try to register for a new EPA though.
When should I register for an LPA?
Some would argue that you don’t need to register a Lasting Power of Attorney immediately. However, given the sometimes lengthy nature of the registration process and any possible delays, it’s usually done sooner rather than later.
Acting in advance is also helpful to catch and fix any issues identified by the court that may cause them to reject the LPA application.
If you wait, it’s also not impossible for the person in need of the LPA to lose the mental capacity to do so before a new one can be registered. Remember, the donor must currently have mental capacity for the LPA to be valid.
How much do powers of attorney cost?
Each Lasting Power of Attorney document currently costs £82 to register with the courts. This is certain to be subject to change in future.
If the application forms are filled out incorrectly – and this is easily done if you don’t have applicable legal knowledge – you may face delays and other issues getting them accepted.
Most people decide to use a legal expert to avoid these kinds of problems. This will add to this cost. However, an experienced Lasting Power of Attorney solicitor will handle every step of the process.
They will draft the paperwork correctly, be Certificate Providers and witnesses, and confirm all registration requirements are met. This ensures the donor, whether yourself or a loved one, is properly provided for and your family properly protected.
Looking for helpful Lasting Power of Attorney solicitors in Shotton, Connah’s Quay, Queensferry, Ewloe, Hawarden or Buckley?
Local people have used E A Harris to help and advise on arrangements like this for over a century.
Set up a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our friendly and approachable legal experts today.