What Is Lasting Power of Attorney?
Lasting Power of Attorney gives your named attorneys the right to make decisions for you. If you’re not capable of making decisions, your attorneys can speak on your behalf. They must act in your best interests, according to what they believe your wishes would be if you had them.
For that reason, it’s best to choose someone that knows you well and is aware of your opinions and perspectives. That said, it’s not always the person you’re closest to that would make the best attorney for you. Think not about emotional closeness, but who could best represent your interests.
Two Types of Lasting Power of Attorney
The two types of Lasting Power of Attorney are medical/care and financial.
You can give financial Power of Attorney to somebody at any time. With this, someone can take care of your property, your bills and your living costs. They’ll have power to manage your estate and make financial decisions if you are no longer sound of mind and capable of doing so.
With lasting Power of Attorney for your care, someone can decide how you should spend your time and where you’ll live. They can decide on your medical care, what you eat and who you can see.
This is a huge responsibility, and this type of Power of Attorney will only apply if you’re considered mentally incapable. This isn’t power you can hand to anyone whilst still in control of your own mind.
Who Might Plan Lasting Power of Attorney?
Anyone can apply at any time. Most people don’t even think to give Power of Attorney to anyone, though the sad truth is that any person can suddenly lose mental capacity. Assigning Power of Attorney means that you’re protected if you can’t express your wishes anymore.
Most people send their application when they’re getting close to needing it. You must still have mental capacity to voluntarily send the application forms, but might be in a situation where you feel that you won’t have it for long. This might be because you have dementia or another similar condition.
By setting up Lasting Power of Attorney in advance, you can make sure that you’ve made your own decision about who will look after your best interests.
Giving Lasting Power of Attorney
The application process for Lasting Power of Attorney is surprisingly simple. You can download Lasting Power of Attorney forms or fill in LPA forms online. Many people won’t need help with this process, which means that it’s fairly cheap to go through. If you’re struggling or don’t understand the legal forms, you can seek professional advice.
Forms must be filled in whilst you’re of sound mind and are able to make your own decisions. Lasting Power of Attorney only comes into play if that ability no longer exists. Your attorney(s) must make sure that they’ve exhausted every avenue for you to make choices on your own before they are legally able to make a choice for you.
Choose whether you want to give both types of Power of Attorney, or whether you only want to give one type of LPA.
Who Should Have Lasting Power of Attorney?
To fill in the forms you’ll need to decide who you’ll be giving the power to. This should be someone that you trust because they’ll have power over your life. Make sure that they agree to take on this role and understand what they’re getting into.
Most people choose a spouse, close friend or family member to take on Lasting Power of Attorney.
Making Your Own Decisions
Lasting Power of Attorney will only be active whilst you can’t make your own decisions. If you can make some decisions but aren’t always able to, the ones that you can make will still apply. You must be given every opportunity to make decisions of your own, and even something as simple as an eye movement or hand squeeze should be considered as valid communication.
Your attorney(s) must not stop you from making any unwise decisions. They’re not doing their job to make sure that every choice is successful – they’re simply there to be sure that every choice is being heard. If you make a bad decision, your attorney(s) must honor your wishes.
Things to Supply With Your LPA Forms
When you’re filling in Lasting Power of Attorney forms, there are several different things to consider. You’ll need to decide on your attorney(s), but will also need witnesses that can confirm that you know what you’re doing.
You must name a Certificate Provider, who works in a professional role. They must have known you for at least two years. Lawyers and doctors are good people for this role, able to confirm that you’re acting alone in handing over Lasting Power of Attorney.
You can name people to notify. They’ll hear about your LPA application and can speak out if they have doubts. Adding people to notify can help to protect you from filling in the forms under duress.
It’s wise to have back-up attorneys. These are people that can take the role if your intended attorneys aren’t able to. Anything can happen from submitting your forms to the moment when your LPA is needed, so having back-up attorneys gives a fall-back option in case your originals can’t, or won’t, do what they initially agreed to.
Lasting Power of Attorney Fees
Giving Lasting Power of Attorney doesn’t need to be expensive. Getting legal help can raise the cost, but the actual application fees are fairly low at £82 per LPA type. This means that it costs just £164 to set up both types of LPA.
You may also be entitled to a reduction in fees if you’re earning less than £12k per year. You might not have to pay anything at all if you’re in receipt of means-tested benefits.
If you’re entitled to lower fees, you will need to provide some evidence of low income or benefits received. You may be able to get a 50% reduction in the price that you pay.