Quick read:

A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to choose someone to make decisions for you when you are unable to make decisions yourself, for example if you suffer an accident or ill health.

There are separate Lasting Powers of Attorney to deal with your finances and your health.

In depth:

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document (or pair of documents) which allows you to choose somebody (an attorney) to make decisions for you when you are unable to make decisions yourself. 

There are very strict requirements that must be met when you create a Lasting Power of Attorney. They must be signed by a Certificate Provider whose role is to confirm that you have sufficient mental capacity to understand the implications of signing a Lasting Power of Attorney. Before they can be used, they must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

A Lasting Power of Attorney for heath and welfare gives your attorney the power to make decisions on matters such as care, medical treatment and where you should live.

A Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs gives your attorney the power to make decisions on matters such as operating bank accounts, making investment decisions and buying/selling properties.

How will it help?

It will help by ensuring that there is someone to help you make decisions or make decisions for you when you cannot make decisions yourself. If you lose the ability to make decisions yourself your bank accounts will be frozen (including jointly owned bank accounts) and you will be unable to sell your house. A Lasting Power of Attorney can be used to unfreeze the accounts and avoid this issue.

It can also be used to allow your attorneys to make medical decisions on your behalf, including decisions about life sustaining treatment.

What happens if I do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney, an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy (similar to an attorney). The deputy will be chosen by a judge based on evidence presented to them in the court application.

The application can take around six months to complete although urgent and emergency applications can be submitted in certain circumstances.

What should I consider:

Which type of Lasting Power of Attorney?

There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney: Health & Welfare, and Property & Financial Affairs. Each one covers different areas and it is important to decide what you wish to cover. However, for maximum protection it is important to have both in place.

Attorneys

It is important to consider who is to act as your attorney. They will have a lot of control over you and it is important you can trust them.

It is possible to appoint a professional to act for you but be aware that they will charge for their time.

You can appoint between one and four attorneys.

Replacement attorney

Your replacement attorneys act as back up in case your chosen attorneys cannot act.

How are your attorneys to act?

There are three main options:

  • Jointly – all your attorneys must make decisions together. For example, they will each need to sign a cheque. It can cause problems if one of your attorneys die or cannot act.
  • Jointly and severally – your attorneys can make decisions separately. For example, only one attorney would need to sign a cheque. This provides flexibility if one attorney dies or cannot act.
  • It can cause problems if an attorney dies or cannot act.

Instructions and preferences

Do you have any particular instructions or wishes that you would like your attorneys to follow? For example, if you have particular religious beliefs which must be followed.

Registration

Your Lasting Power of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. However, you do not have to register it immediately. The registration process takes around 10 to 12 weeks in total and this should be factored in when making a decision about when to register your Lasting Power of Attorney.