Lasting Power of Attorney
A Will protects your beneficiaries' interests after you've died, but a Lasting Power of Attorney protects you while you're still alive. It is essential to decide who would look after your affairs, make decisions on your behalf and ensure your best interests are protected if you lost capacity, either through accident or illness? LPAs are legal documents that allow you to grant authority to the person or people that you choose to make decisions for you. Without Lasting Power of Attorney in place, if there is a loss of capacity, no one, not even a spouse, has the legal authority to deal with your financial affairs or make important decisions regarding your care or medical treatment.
WHAT IS A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY (LPA)?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which enables you, the donor, to appoint one or more attorneys that you trust to manage your financial and/or health and personal welfare affairs should you be unable to yourself due to illness or accident.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T HAVE AN LPA ?
An LPA can only be made whilst you have mental capacity. Should you lose mental capacity and an LPA is not in place there is no one who has the legal right to handle your affairs. This includes spouses, civil partners, family and friends. It would be necessary for family or those close to you to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your “Deputy”. This is a much more costly and time consuming process. Court costs include an application fee of £400 and registration fee of £500. Once granted there follows a requirement to account to the Public Guardianship Office annually for all of the income and expenditure of the patient. Furthermore, the Office of the Public Guardian also take a percentage of the annual income as payment for overseeing the accounts and solicitors fees will also add to the costs. This process can take up to 6 months during which time your financial affairs are effectively frozen. This can pose significant problems, as you can imagine, for a partner who holds a joint bank account with you, and with regards to paying bills and care costs. All welfare decisions during this time must be made by your medical team and/or social services, based on what are deemed to be your best interests. These best interest decisions might, of course, not actually reflect your true wishes. Creating an LPA eliminates all this added expense and hassle and, perhaps most importantly, allows the donor complete control over what happens to their financial and health and welfare affairs by allowing them to specify a range of guidelines and restrictions.
WHO SHOULD HAVE AN LPA ?
The simple answer to this is, everyone. It is a sad fact of life that illnesses both age related and non age related and accidents can and do happen to anyone at any time. There is no benefit to be had from worrying about such things however there is great benefit to be had from putting sensible measures in place with regards to future financial, health and welfare care. Think of it as an insurance policy and once done, like a Will, it can offer a great deal of comfort and security.
WHAT IS INVOLVED?
Cloveroak Wills can guide you through the process of making and registering LPAs. In a home visit or online consultation we take your instructions and complete all of the paperwork for you. This includes the LPA itself, a notice to an independent third party called a certificate provider who verifies your capacity, and the application to register at the Office of the Public Guardian. Meeting face to face means that we can outline your options, discuss the implications of making a Lasting Power of Attorney and answer all your questions. It also allows us to assess your capacity to make an LPA and therefore act as your certificate provider, if you would prefer this to involving friends, family or neighbours.
We then draft your documents and arrange a second meeting to supervise the correct signing and witnessing. We provide full guidance and support to your attorneys and are available to answer any questions they may have about their role.
Included in our service is the preparation of your documents for registration with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). We remain associated with your case throughout this process meaning that we deal with any questions the OPG may raise. We also cover any fees for re submissions, unless the original application is rejected due to incorrect information being supplied or someone objecting to the registration on the prescribed grounds permitted by the OPG.