What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

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A Lasting Power of Attorney (also known as an LPA) is a legal document whereby a person (known as the "donor”) appoints someone they trust (known as an “attorney”) to deal with their property and financial affairs, or their health and welfare, when mental capacity has been lost.

A loved one or family member may need help making decisions and running their affairs, for a variety of reasons, including:

  • being ill, or in hospital;  
  • physically incapable of leaving their home;
  • they may have had an accident or suffered a stroke, making it difficult for them to make their own decisions; or
  • they may have been diagnosed with a degenerative condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

When a financial LPA is put in place, an appointed attorney is given the power to make financial decisions on the donor’s behalf, such as running the donor’s bank and savings accounts, paying the donor’s bills, claiming and receiving benefits and/or buying and selling the donor’s property. The attorney must act according to the donor's instructions, whilst the donor still has capacity.

An LPA relating to health and welfare is slightly different. This only becomes operational once the donor has lost capacity to make decisions for themself. The donor can give instructions about the type of medical intervention they would want (or not want) in certain circumstances, and give instructions about their end of life care. 

An LPA must be put in place whilst a donor still has mental capacity, and therefore is particularly important to put in place where an early diagnosis of the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s is made.

Before an LPA can be used, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and it is recommended that it is registered as soon as it has been drawn up so that its ready to use in the event of an emergency.

Once mental capacity is lost, it is not possible to enter into an LPA. In these circumstances a Deputyship Order will need to be sought which involves a complicated and lengthy application to the Court.

If you or a loved one would like some further advice about how to have a Lasting Power of Attorney prepared, then contact one of our specialist team who would be happy to discuss the matter further with you.

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