How does a Lasting Power of Attorney help me and my family?

With a record number of enquiries to our Swindon office about Lasting Power of Attorney I thought it might help to go back to basics and look at what an LPA actually does and when it can be used.

If a loved one is no longer able to make decisions for themselves, families are faced with a series of difficult scenarios. The change in circumstance could be quick such as a medical emergency or accident leading to loss of mental capacity. It could also be the slow, long term onset of debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or Dementia.

Whichever way mental capacity is lost the pressures experienced by the spouse / partner or wider family are made all the more difficult if the legal documents which allow you to manage a loved one’s affairs are not in place.

Having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registered with the Office of the Public Guardian enables your chosen Attorneys, who are usually close family members or friends the ability and legal authority to step in and manage the situation on your behalf.

There are two types of LPA, one for your Property & Finance and the other for your Health & Welfare. Details of what each LPA covers can be found here.

For an LPA to be valid it must be made in advance of the person taking it out called “The Donor” losing mental capacity. The Donor must be able to understand the effect of making the LPA and all parties involved must confirm that they are happy to act.

You can choose to appoint one or more Attorneys and specify whether they must act together (if more than one) or if they can act independently of each other. Replacement Attorneys can also be added, if the originally appointed cannot act for you. At Farsight Wills we do not make any additional charges for Attorneys. This means you can have as many Attorneys and Replacement Attorneys as you like and there would be no extra cost.

Your Farsight Wills representative can act as Witness and Certificate Provider to the Donor and once all parties have signed the LPA it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (‘OPG’) before it can be used. The OPG is the legal body responsible for overseeing people with mental capacity issues in England and Wales. It works in close conjunction with the Court of Protection

Once the LPA has been recorded and returned by the OPG you will need to inform institutions such as your Bank, Building Society and Pension provider that there is one in place. The Health and Welfare LPA needs to be registered with your doctor’s surgery and with any health workers or care providers you may be dealing with at the time.

Lasting Power of Attorney is a powerful and extremely useful legal tool but it must be put in place before the person taking it out has lost capacity. As with many legal documents we deal with it is always best to get these things organised sooner rather than later as we just don’t know what might be round the corner.

If you have any further questions on Lasting Power of Attorney, Swindon Will writing or Estate Planning please feel free to contact our Swindon office where we offer free initial consultations and free home visits if required.