Harry Gabell (Student)
A Lasting power of attorney (LPA) is something which you can (and perhaps ought to) have set up before your health deteriorates An LPA is a legal document whereby a trusted friend or family member is given the powers to make some decisions on your behalf, if you no longer have the mental capacity to make these decisions by yourself. Generally speaking, LPA’s are usually considered by the elderly, but the option is available to anybody over the age of 18.
What does an LPA do exactly?
The LPA formalises a relationship between a ‘donor’, who creates the power, and the ‘attorney’, who may use the power if the donor loses mental capacity. To have capacity, a person must be able to understand the information they need to make a decision, evaluate it, and then communicate their intentions. So, while you still have mental capacity, you can appoint somebody to make decisions on your behalf in two areas, should you ever lose it. These are:
- Health and welfare
- Property and finance
Your attorney can cover just one of these areas, or both, but they must be arranged using different forms. Also, by creating these arrangements, it does not mean that the donor is giving up any control. The powers should only be used at the point of the loss of mental capacity.
Health and welfare power of attorneys concern medical treatment and other interactions with healthcare staff. Health and welfare powers could also cover more serious medical decisions, but these kinds of decisions could already be made by the donor in advance using a ‘living will’.
Property and finance powers cover money, tax, bills, accounts, property, pensions and benefits, among other things. They could also deal with situations where there is a need to pay for equipment or supplies, for example a wheelchair, or new clothes. Wherever possible, the donor’s property and finance should be kept separate from the attorney’s, although some couples using shared bank accounts won’t be able to do this. Unlike health and welfare powers, property and finance powers may be used before the loss of mental capacity.
What does an LPA cost?
In England and Wales, setting up an LPA carries a cost of £82 (for both health and welfare and property and finance, that would be £164). This is the fee for the compulsory registration of the power of attorney. If you instruct solicitors to help you get the power there will be further fees..
Arranging an LPA comes strongly recommended from both a financial and a personal protection standpoint. Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) offers free legal advice and can advise on matters of lasting powers of attorney arrangements (although we do not draft the applications). SULAC is offering appointments online, through Microsoft Teams due to COVID – 19. For additional information, or to book an appointment please call on 01782 294800 or email at SULAC@staffs.ac.uk