What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

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Due to the resulting uncertainty related to the coronavirus, many individuals are seeking to make arrangements regarding their affairs in the future, including through obtaining a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”). An LPA is a document that enables the individual making it (“the donor”), to appoint others to act on their behalf (otherwise referred to as their “attorney(s)”). Often, this may be their spouse and/or children. An LPA can ensure that the donor is able to make their own decisions, until such circumstances that they become incapacitated. It may be particularly useful should the donor become impaired as a result of an illness, in which case the attorney(s) will be authorised to act on behalf of the donor. There are two different types of LPA, a donor may have either of these or both. They are as follows:
  1. A Property and Financial Affairs LPA, which gives the attorney the legal authority to make decisions related to the donor’s property and finances. For example, this may assist them in operating the donor’s bank account, paying the donor’s bills and/or selling their property.
  1. A Health and Welfare LPA, enables an attorney to make decisions regarding the donor’s health and welfare. Such decisions can include that relating to life sustaining treatment, the donor’s diet and where they may live.
An attorney can only use an LPA after it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”), which can take up to 12 weeks. It is estimated that around 15% of LPAs are completed incorrectly. Any mistakes will not be able to be fixed if the donor lose capacity prior to registration.

Why should you consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney?

In the absence of an LPA, if a donor loses mental capacity, then their relatives and/or associates may have to incur the expense of making a time-consuming application to the Court of Protection. Until the correct authority is obtained, no one will be able to make a decision on behalf of the donor or access their accounts to satisfy any financial obligations.

Coronavirus and Lasting Power of Attorneys

An LPA can still be made during lockdown, but the witnessing of the donors and attorneys signatures must be in person. It is therefore important that government guidance on social distancing and the national lockdown rules are followed. Ultimately, an LPA can provide the donor with peace of mind, in the knowledge that their wishes will be honoured and respected when they can no longer make their own decisions.
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