What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
By appointing lasting power of attorney (LPA), you are legally allowing someone to make decisions on your behalf in the future.
If you have the mental capacity to make financial and medical decisions yourself, and communicate what you’d like or what you don’t want, then you can appoint an LPA to make these decisions for you in the future. Here we look at the requirements around getting an LPA, who’s eligible and how getting LPA can help you in the future.
Types of power of attorney
You can appoint attorneys in two different areas of your life. These are:
- Personal welfare and medical matters
- Property and financial affairs
Personal welfare and medical matters LPA
Personal welfare LPA gives your attorney the power to make decisions about your daily routine (such as washing, dressing, and eating), as well as healthcare, whether to move you into a care home, and decisions around life-sustaining medical treatment.
It can only be used if you’re unable to make your own decisions. We’ve looked at what losing mental capacity means in our article here.
Property and financial LPA
Property and financial LPA gives your attorney the authority to make decisions about your money and property, including managing your bank or building society accounts, paying bills, collecting your pension or benefits, and selling your home.
Unlike the personal welfare LPA, the property and financial LPA applies when you’re still mentally capable.
What a personal welfare power of attorney can do
Lasting power of attorney over someone’s personal welfare and medical matters means you can make decisions about the healthcare and welfare of that person. You’ll make decisions like:
- Where that person lives
- Whether a care home or a nursing home is best for them
- Whether the person can continue to live at home with help from social and palliative care
Again, a personal welfare LPA can only be used when you’re unable to make decisions, and deemed to have lost mental capacity.
What a property and financial affairs power of attorney can do
If you have lasting power of attorney over property and financial affairs, you’re allowed to make decisions around:
- Writing cheques and paying bills
- Selling or renting property
- Conducting legal procedures on their behalf
It goes without saying, but it’s assumed that an attorney will keep your stuff in good faith. If you’re appointed a property and financial LPA, you must keep the person’s money and property separate from your own.
You can appoint one attorney, or more than one. If you choose more than one person then these people can either act “jointly”, or what’s known as “jointly and severally”.
When acting jointly, attorneys must always make decisions together.
When acting jointly and severally, they must make some decisions together and some individually.
So if you appoint attorneys to act jointly when making decisions over your money, but want only one person to decide whether you live in residential care, then you can do this. You also have the right to say the attorneys must always act jointly in all areas.
Applying for power of attorney
You can apply online for power of attorney on GOV.UK. Alternatively, contact the Office of the Public Guardian for an application pack.
A power of attorney must be registered before it comes into force. The notice period for any objections is around 6 weeks.
Find out more
Make sure you think through what these decisions might be, and your preferences known.
Take a look at our article on the difference between Advance decisions and advance statements
Why not visit our Legal Matters hub at Death.io