A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘Donor’) appoint and give legal authority to one or more people (known as ‘Attorneys’) to make decisions on your behalf. You can choose when you would like the LPA to take effect – this could be immediately, or only if you lack mental capacity.
An LPA gives you more control over what happens to you if you lack mental capacity in the future and can no longer make your own decisions.
Research shows that the number of people in the UK with dementia is set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. Alarming figures like this highlight just how important it is to plan for your future and one way of doing this is to have an LPA in place so that you know your affairs will be dealt with, in accordance with your wishes.
There are two types of LPA: one is for property and financial affairs and the other is for health and welfare decisions. You can choose to have one type of LPA, or both, depending on your circumstances. An LPA will only be valid once it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
If you lose mental capacity without having a registered LPA, your loved ones will need to apply to the Court of Protection for a ‘Deputy’ to be appointed to manage your affairs. The Deputy appointed by the Court may not be someone you wish. Not only this, but the process is extremely costly and time consuming. Due to the time delays, there could be a period of several months in which nobody is able to deal with your affairs. This adds further financial and emotional stress on your loved ones during a tough time.
Nearly 75% of people think that their partners or close relatives can automatically make decisions for them, if they are no longer able to. This is not the case – only an LPA gives you the legal ability to give people you trust the power to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. Having an LPA in place gives you the peace of mind that your affairs will be dealt with in accordance with your wishes and by people of your choice.