What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
There may come a time when a person living with dementia is unable to make decisions about their care and finances. A ‘Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)’ is the process that appoints someone else to make decisions on their behalf, in their best interests. It can be sometimes be a difficult conversation to have, but can help to make things easier if it is needed.
There are two types of LPA, and a person can draw up either or both:
- Health and welfare – covers decisions regarding care needs, such as medical care, life-sustaining treatment, and moving into a care home.
- Property and financial affairs – covers decisions regarding bank/building society accounts, bills, benefits, pensions, and buying and selling property.
You can choose to make both types, or just one. You can appoint the same person to be your attorney for both, or you can have different attorneys.
Why make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Most people living with dementia will at some point not be able to make decisions about their care and finances, this is called `loss of mental capacity’. For more on Mental Capacity see Mental capacity and decision making – Dementia UK
Even if someone is married or in a civil partnership, it is important to make an LPA, as their partner is not automatically entitled to make decisions on their behalf.
How do I set up an LPA?
You must be:
- 18 or over
- capable of managing your own affairs well
- trusted by the person making the LPA.
It costs £82 to register each LPA unless you get a reduction or exemption.
This means it costs £164 to register both a property and financial affairs LPA and a health and welfare LPA.
To register, follow the guidance on the Government website: Make, register or end a lasting power of attorney: Register a lasting power of attorney – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
All LPAs must be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before they can be used. The OPG is a government body that is responsible for the registration of LPAs.
There are also many solicitors and legal advisors who would be able to assist with registering the LPA, for an additional fee.
When should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Dementia is progressive and presentation may vary according to the type of dementia and the individual themselves which means that it will become more difficult for you to make plans and decisions over time. It is therefore a good idea to start thinking about making an LPA as soon as you can.
Talking about LPAs with your family or close friends can be a good way to think about what you want for the future. It will also help them to know and understand wishes and preferences.
What happens if I don’t make a Lasting power of attorney?
Although it can be difficult to think about the future, and to plan for life with dementia, it is important.
If you don’t make an LPA, and later become unable to make certain decisions for yourself, there may come a time when no one can legally make those decisions for you. This can make things difficult and very drawn-out, such as paying bills or care costs, or making decisions about your future care.
If this happens, someone may need to apply to the Court of Protection to become your deputy.
Read more from financial journalist and broadcaster Martin Lewis here: