Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal process whereby a person (the ‘donor’) with mental capacity, gives authority for trusted people (the ‘attorneys’) to make decisions on their behalf, if and when they lose capacity.
Quick answer to the above question: you ‘need’ LPAs in the same way you ‘need’ home insurance. You only need them if you need them, and if you do, you (or your family) will be glad they are there. And like insurance, if you need LPAs and don’t have them, then it’s too late.
There are two types of LPA – property & finance decisions and health & welfare decisions. The first allows attorneys to look after your finances and manage your property. The second enables your attorneys to decide on your medical treatment (including life support), where you should live, and your care, if you are not able to.
It is important to note that loss of mental capacity can be temporary e.g. a coma after a stroke, from which a person makes a full recovery. The finance LPA can be used before the donor loses mental capacity (with their consent), e.g. if they were physically unable to get to a bank.
There are safeguards in place to protect donors; attorneys must always assume that the donor can make decisions, and help them to do so, unless it’s proven that they cannot. Attorneys must also always act in the donor’s best interests.
Where no LPAs are in place and a person loses mental capacity, Social Services can get involved and may make decisions for a person that they themselves would not have wanted. Relatives can apply for ‘deputyship’ through the Court of Protection, but this is a long and expensive process and even if deputyship is granted, there are likely to be ongoing costs and onerous supervision.
Creating LPAs in advance avoids these problems and ensures that people you trust, and who know what you would want, will be able to make the right decisions for you if and when you need them to.
Creating LPAs is not a quick process – at present we are seeing the Office of Public Guardian take up to five months to return the registered forms, until which time they cannot be used – so if you are concerned that you or a loved one could lose mental capacity, now is the time to act.
Contact us on 07795 661719 or email@example.com.