Lasting Power of Attorney – The Basics

LPAs – The Basics
A Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) is a legal document that appoints an attorney or attorneys to make certain decisions on your behalf.  There are two types of LPA; one covers decisions in relation to your Health and Welfare and the other covers decisions in relation to your Property and Financial Affairs.   You can choose to have just one type if you feel that this meets your needs, but most people generally prefer to have both, as the differing roles often interlock.  If you are a business owner, you can also choose to have a specific Lasting Power of Attorney drawn up to cover who should take control of your business affairs if you were to become unable to do so. You can only set up an LPA if you have mental capacity to do so. 

What is an attorney and who can be my attorney?
An attorney is a person you choose to manage your affairs when you are unable to do so. The Lasting Power of Attorney document gives them legal authorisation to make decisions on your behalf.  You can choose anyone you want to be your attorney, as long as they are over 18, but it is important that you choose someone that you know well and that you trust to make decisions that are in your best interests.  For a property and financial affairs LPA, the person you choose cannot be bankrupt. If you choose to appoint more than one attorney then you will need to specify whether they should make decisions jointly, meaning that they must agree on every decision, or jointly and severally, meaning that they may act together or separately, as they choose. How you appoint your attorneys is important as the documents can become cumbersome or even unusable in certain scenarios.

What does a Health and Welfare LPA do?
A Health and Welfare LPA gives your attorney(s) the power to make decisions about giving or refusing consent to health care including medical treatment, getting help and support from Social Services, day to day personal care  such as washing, dressing, diet, hairdressers) and decisions surrounding moving into a care home. This type of LPA can only be used if you lose mental capacity and are unable to make your own decisions. There is also a section in this document covering life-sustaining treatment.

What does a Property and Financial Affairs LPA do?
A Property and Financial Affairs LPA gives your attorney(s) the power to make decisions about your money and property. This includes opening and closing and using bank or building society accounts, paying household and other bills, claiming, receiving and using your pension, benefits or allowances, managing investments and, should it be necessary, selling your home.

When are they used?
All LPAs must be registered by the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”). The OPG will check that the LPA is legally correct, that there are no errors in it, and notify any named interested parties so that they have an opportunity to object to the registration of the LPA if they have concerns about it. Once registered with the OPG, a Property and Financial Affairs LPA can be used immediately or held in readiness until required. A Health & Welfare LPA can only be used once you have lost capacity. It is a common misconception that the documents are only registered when required-this was the case with the old-style documents.

Can I cancel my LPA?
Yes, you can choose to cancel your LPA as long as you still have mental capacity. Making a new LPA does not necessarily revoke an existing document.

When do they end if they are not cancelled?
LPAs end when you or your attorney die, if your attorney loses mental capacity, if you get divorced or, for a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, if you or your attorney become bankrupt or become subject to a Debt Relief Order.  The Court of Protection can also cancel an LPA if it is decided that the attorney is not acting in your best interests. As above, the way in which your attorneys are appointed can also holt an attorney’s power in certain circumstances.

How much do they cost?
Our fees are £500 per document.  The OPG also charge a fee of £82 per document for registration.  These fees are correct at the time of writing, but please refer to our pricing page to check that these haven’t changed.  We offer a discounted rate if you prepare multiple LPAs at once.

How long does it take to draw up an LPA?
Once signed, an LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) to be valid.  The OPG at present takes up to 20 weeks to deal with the registration process.  There was a severe backlog during and just after the pandemic, but this is now beginning to ease.

Get in touch
If you would like to discuss drawing up an LPA,  our friendly and experienced team would be pleased to hear from you.  You can get in touch with us by emailing info@penderlaw.co.uk or calling us on 01872 241408.