What is an (LPA)?
It is a legal document which an individual authorises somebody, or perhaps more than one person, to make decisions on their behalf when they do not have the capacity to do so themselves. The person nominated is the ‘attorney’, and the person making the (LPA) is the ‘donor’.
There are two distinct types of (LPA). The most commonly known variety is the Property and Financial Affairs (LPA). This as the name suggests, deals with financial matters. The attorney can operate bank accounts buy and sell property in the individual’s name, and run their business or investments if needs be.
The other type is a Health and Welfare (LPA), in which some one can stipulate the sort of care they want in later life – home nursing say, or a particular type of care home. It can also include a do not resuscitate order. An unmarried couple could use an (LPA) to empower one partner to make medical decisions on behalf of the other, that could prove useful in hospitals where that right may otherwise be questioned.
The most common reason for having an (LPA) is dementia. One in every 3 people over the age of 65 will develop some form of dementia. But the power does not only come into play towards the end of life. People can loose their capacity to act at any time through injury, accident or illness. Every 90 seconds somebody goes into hospital with an acquired brain injury, according to the charity Headway.
So, while every older person should have a (LPA), younger people should be thinking about this too. The NHS now suggests that everybody should have an (LPA).
We are often asked, what are the consequences if we do not have an (LPA) and we loose our mental capacity. This question is often raised about client’s parents. If you are mentally incapable and do not have an (LPA), you must apply to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy to act for you. That is very expensive and very slow. It can take at least 9 months and longer, whilst the assets are largely in limbo, and frankly the creditors do not wait that long.
Anybody over the age of 18 years can be an attorney. The attorney should of course be somebody who can be trusted completely, a relative, a friend or perhaps a solicitor or an accountant. More than one attorney can be selected, and replacements can be named in case the original attorneys become unable or are unwilling to act.
We are often approached for Powers of Attorney to be made urgently. One thing that should be noted is that the Power of Attorney only becomes legal once the actual documentation becomes registered at the Office of Public Guardians, and returned stamped as an approved Power of Attorney. In our experience this is taking up to 18 weeks for the Office of Public Guardians to do this work, and there is no procedure for an urgent application. Therefore, if there is the possibility that somebody requires a Power of Attorney, it should not be delayed, it should be dealt with quickly.
If you have an queries with regards to the Power of Attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us.