It all sounds a bit sombre. But Powers of Attorney aren’t about dying, they are about living well; a kind of personal insurance.
By appointing an Attorney to carry out your wishes when you can’t act for yourself, you do two things:
- Give yourself peace of mind that if something bad happens your opinion will still count; and
- Give your family the guidance they need to do things your way.
When should I appoint an Attorney?
Don’t wait until you are old or ill to appoint someone to do things for you. Especially not if you have children or family who care about you and could easily help.
We just don’t know when illness or accident might strike, perhaps even just for a short while. But if it does, life will be so much easier for you and those around you if people know what you want.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (or LPA)?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions, or to make decisions on your behalf.
This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and can’t make your own decisions (you ‘lack mental capacity’).
The LPA can cover decisions about your finances, property or health. Once you have set up and registered the LPA it just sits quietly in the background. Hopefully never to be used, but there if needed.
What does an LPA cover?
There are two types of LPA
- Health and Welfare
- Property and Finance
Your Health and Welfare LPA will allow your attorneys to make decisions such as whether you should have an operation or what sort of meals you might want when ill. They can only act if you lack capacity, as these types of decision are very personal.
Your Property and Finance LPA gives your attorneys power to deal with your money, so paying bills for you or buying things you need, as well as selling your home. You can give them the power to act straight away if you want to, so that they can offer help when you need it rather than just waiting until you can no longer do things completely for yourself. It’s up to you.
How do I make a Lasting Power of Attorney LPA?
You can go to a solicitor to get help and advice with writing an LPA, but you don’t need to. Solicitors may charge over £100 per LPA, so if you and your partner want both types of LPA that can be expensive.
Instead you can write your LPA yourself. All the relevant information is online at the Government website, including lots of advice and guidance.
You can print off forms and complete the process by hand, but it is simpler to fill in the forms online as follows:
- To draft an LPA you simply follow the steps on the Government’s LPA site, which saves the document as you go.
- Check you are happy that you know what your LPA does, who will be your attorneys and what you want them to be able to do.
- Pay the fee online: this is currently £82 per LPA, though it is free if you receive certain benefits, and reduced depending on means. See fees.
- Print off the document and keep it loose-leaf.
- Get it signed. The signature process can be complicated, as you and your attorneys must sign in all the right places in the right order, along with relevant witnesses.
- You then submit the signed LPA to the Office of the Public Guardian for registration.
- Once it is returned, several weeks later, your attorneys can act on your LPA whenever necessary.
- It is best to get several official copies of the registered LPAs so that they can be shown to people when your attorneys need to act. You can either pay for copies from the Office of the Public Guardian, or prepare them yourself following the guidelines here.
I can help
If you are worried you won’t do it right, or need someone to explain it to you, I’m happy to help.