Do I really need an LPA and can I do it myself
- AuthorLauren Walker
Do I really need an LPA and can I do it myself?
The Office of the Public Guardian have reported that less than 1% of the adult UK population have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). However, we are all at risk of losing our mental capacity in some way or another. So, just how important are LPA’s? Do you need to go to a solicitor to draft them?
An LPA is a legal document in which you (the donor) appoint people as your attorneys to help you make decisions or make decisions on your behalf. There are 2 types of LPA. The first is Property and Financial Affairs, this essentially does what it says on the tin. It enables your chosen attorneys to manage your finances and sell your property. The second is Health and Welfare, which deals with the more personal aspects of your life e.g. your care options, your diet and even decisions on life sustaining medical treatments.
Whilst you may think an LPA is just for the elderly, it’s important to note that we can lose capacity at any age. In fact, every 90 seconds someone is admitted to hospital in the UK with a brain injury and, whilst your Will takes effect on death, your LPA provides for when you are living and unable to make your own decisions.
But why do I need to appoint my spouse or children as attorney when they can fulfil my wishes as next of kin? This is a common misconception that we hear all the time. Unfortunately, your next of kin have no automatic legal right to make decisions about your care, treatment or access your bank accounts. The only way to guarantee that your loved ones can make decisions on your behalf when you have lost mental capacity is by appointing them as attorney under your LPA.
Your Property and Financial Affairs LPA can also work if you still have mental capacity. You may find yourself in a situation where you are incapable of leaving your home or in hospital for a short time. During this time, your LPA can allow your chosen attorney to pay your bills and manage your bank accounts with your consent. This means that you still have access to your funds whilst lacking the physical ability to attend the bank. It is important to note that this only applies to Property and Financial Affairs LPA’s, Health and Welfare LPA’s only gives your attorney’s power when you have lost mental capacity.
Don’t wait too long. With one in three people over the age of 65 developing dementia, it’s important to get your LPA in place as soon as you can. Whilst we may be able to take your instructions in the early stages of dementia, we cannot do this after you have lost capacity. In this case, The Court of Protection may need to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. This may not be the person that you would like and is a much more costly, intrusive and lengthy process.
Why should I instruct a professional to assist me to put LPAs in place?
The Office of the Public Guardian do not check the names and addresses that you include in your form. If there are any mistakes, the LPA will still be registered but will be invalid. The effect of this is that when your attorney attempts to use their powers, this may not be allowed as their identification does not match the LPA document.
Whilst the form appears rather easy to complete, if you do not follow the Court’s instructions exactly, your application may be rejected. You may then need to amend your application and pay another registration fee.
When making your application online, there is no measure to prove who is setting up the LPA. Unfortunately, someone who is looking to take advantage may be applying for an LPA and asking you to simply sign some forms. They are then given the powers to make decisions for you under the LPA if it is registered.
Instructing a professional ensures that the procedure has been done correctly based on your instructions. Do not underestimate the importance and power of this document, it can have a huge impact on your life should you lose mental capacity.