Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to formally appoint a close friend or relative as an ‘attorney’ so that they can make decisions on your behalf.

You can give them the power now to be able to make decisions in the future, if a time should arise when you may not want to make such decisions or you don’t have the mental capacity to do so.

You can draw up a LPA at any time, but it can only be used once it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Anyone over the age of 18, who has capacity to create one, can make a power of attorney, but you cannot make it jointly with another person.

LPAs come in two forms: a Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Financial Affairs (‘LPA PFA’) and a Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare (‘LPA HW’).

Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Financial Affairs (LPA HW)

A LPA PFA lets you (as the ‘Donor’) authorise one or more people to make decisions on your behalf about how your property and affairs are managed and how your money is spent.

It can be used if you lack capacity, but it can also take affect whilst you still have capacity. For example, you may find it easier to give someone the power to pay your bills if you’re abroad for long periods of time, or you may want someone to collect your benefits for you if you can’t get out of the house easily. However, the LPA can be restricted so it only applies when you lack capacity.

You can decide to give your Attorney(s) the power to make decisions about any or all of your property and affairs.

They could have powers of attorney to sell your home or buy property for you in your name. They could make decisions about how your care (including healthcare) should be paid for or they could decide to carry on (or wind up) your business.

But they cannot make decisions about your personal welfare. These decisions must be made under a LPA PFA or, if this isn’t possible, by the Court of Protection or someone appointed by the Court.

Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare (LPA HW)

A LPA HW allows you to authorise one or more people to make decisions on your behalf regarding your healthcare and personal welfare, but the Attorney(s) only have the authority to make those decisions once you’re incapable of doing so; for example, if you’re unconscious or because you’re starting to suffer from a condition such as dementia.

Decisions about your personal welfare are wide-ranging and can include decisions about where you live, how you’re cared for and what healthcare you receive. This can include specific decisions about medical treatments or more general decisions about whether you continue to live in your own home, perhaps with help and support from social services, or whether residential care would be more appropriate for you.

The decision to send you to a nursing home and the payment of that home cannot be made using a LPA HW alone. The Attorney(s) must have the power from a LPA PFA for the payment, and a LPA HW for the decision to put you in the home.

If you want your Attorney(s) to be able to make decisions about ‘life-sustaining treatment’, then you have to expressly give them the power to make these kind of decisions by completing section 5 of the LPA HW form.

You can make a legal document called an Living Will, in which you can specify in advance in what circumstances you don’t wish to receive specified treatments.

This form differs from a LPA HW in that it refuses treatment, whereas the LPA HW gives the Attorney the power to consent to or refuse treatments.

A LPA HW doesn’t apply to any decisions of a financial nature, which must be made under a LPA PFA or, if this isn’t possible, by the Court of Protection or someone appointed by the Court.

Stop worrying and make a Power of Attorney today.

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Published on: October 25, 2010