Lasting Power of Attorney
By Jessica Johnston
An accident or sudden ill health can often leave you unable to deal with your financial affairs whether it is just temporary or permanent. If this happened who would be able to deal with your affairs on your behalf?
Often where assets are in your sole name the answer may be no one however a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that enables one person or more to make decisions on behalf of another when they cannot make those decisions themselves.
There are two types of LPAs:
- Property and Finance LPA
A Property and Finance LPA enables a person to make decisions on your behalf in relation to your property and your money. In short, a financial attorney will be able to do anything with your finances and property as you would be able to do, including selling your home or opening and closing accounts for example. It should be noted that when it comes to gifting funds, if the person who made the LPA does not have mental capacity to authorise the gift on their own, the attorney does not have the legal authority to gift assets (other than a few very limited exceptions) without the permission of the Court.
- Health and Welfare LPA
A Health and Welfare LPA enables a person to make decisions when you are unable to in respect of medical treatment you receive and where you live. Without an LPA your family would be unable to make these decisions on your behalf and it may be necessary for family members to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy. This can be a distressing and lengthy process and is far more expensive than making an LPA. The LPA must be made at a time when you have the capacity to make it and it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.