What is a lasting power of attorney (LPA)?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document. It lets you choose (appoint) someone to make decisions for you if you become unable to make decisions yourself. The person you appoint is called your attorney. The power you give them can be long or short term.

Setting up a power of attorney can give you more control over what happens to you if you cannot make your own decisions, or if you become unable to tell people about them.

In England and Wales, there are two types of LPA. You can make one of them or both:

  • An LPA for financial decisions. This includes things like paying bills or selling your home. It can be used when you are still able to make your own decisions. Or you can set it up to start once you become unable to make decisions for yourself.
  • An LPA for health and welfare decisions. This includes things like giving consent for treatment, care, medication and where you live. This LPA can only be used if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. Some people also make an advance decision to refuse treatment (advance directive). Talk to your solicitor about which is most suitable for you.

You can find out more about making an LPA at gov.uk

Lasting power of attorney replaced enduring power of attorney (EPA) in England and Wales in 2007. If you have an existing enduring power of attorney, it can still be used. However, this only applies to your financial affairs. Your attorney, or attorneys, cannot make decisions about your health and welfare using an EPA.

Why a health and welfare LPA may be helpful

A health and welfare LPA can give you reassurance that someone you trust will make decisions for you if you become seriously ill.

For example, you may decide to give a health and welfare LPA to your adult children. You can then discuss your thoughts about any future care decisions with them. So you can be sure your instructions for your care will be followed if you are unable to make your own decisions.

If you do appoint someone to be your attorney, choose someone who:

  • shares similar opinions and ideas to you
  • has a good idea of your wishes.

They are more likely to make the decisions you would want.

Making an LPA

You must be aged over 18 to set up a lasting power of attorney. You must also be able to make your own decisions. This is called having mental capacity. This means you can:

  • understand the decision you are making
  • understand what may happen as a result of the decision
  • remember and process any information you need to make the decision
  • make the decision
  • communicate the decision to your doctor or others caring for you – this does not have to be by talking.

You can find out more about mental capacity at gov.uk

You can make an LPA online at lastingpowerofattorney.service.gov.uk

Or you can get a form from the Office of the Public Guardian.

Although you can make your own LPA, it is a legal document and must be prepared properly. So you may want to get help from a solicitor. They will make sure your wishes are clear and are carried out exactly as you want. If you do not have a solicitor, you can find one by contacting the Law Society of England and Wales.

An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. This can take between 8 and 10 weeks. There is a fee to register an LPA. You may not have to pay the fee, or you may only have to pay part of the fee, if:

  • you are on a low income
  • you are on certain benefits.

To find out more visit gov.uk

Other things to think about

If you have made an advance decision to refuse treatment (ADRT) and a health and welfare LPA, one may make the other invalid.

If you have a financial power of attorney, your attorney cannot manage your property or finances after you have died. This means that your property and finances will be looked after according to the instructions in your will. Bank accounts are also frozen at the time of a person’s death and cannot be used. If you have a partner or close family member, you may want to consider putting bank accounts into both your names.

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