Most people know they should have a will – whether they have one or not! But, what about a power of attorney? Here, Louise Harris gives a simple guide to Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), and explains why it’s every bit as important to have an LPA, as it is to have a will.
When we die, our will appoints executors to look after our affairs. But what if we were to become ill, or incapable of looking after our affairs during our lifetime? Who would look after things for us then?
Well, that’s why we should all have a power of attorney. It’s the legally recognised ‘authority’ for our chosen attorney to look after things for us, where we become incapable of doing so ourselves. Without it, nobody can step in and look after your affairs if the unexpected happens and you become ill, or incapable for example following an accident.
There are two types of LPAs – property & affairs, and health & welfare.
Property & Affairs LPA
This allows your attorney to deal with your finances, from your bank accounts, right through to selling your house.
Health & Welfare LPA
This allows your attorney to make decisions about any required care, ranging from which care home is used, through to refusing life-sustaining medical care.
How do I appoint an attorney?
The process is relatively straightforward with prescribed forms to be completed. These can be downloaded free from the website of the Office of the Public Guardian. https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney Or, your solicitor can prepare the forms for you.
LPA Certificate Provider
Somebody needs to formally confirm within the forms that you are of sound mind, and have chosen your appointed attorney(s) of your own free will (ie you aren’t being pushed into it). This is called your certificate provider. Your solicitor is one of the recognised people who are permitted by the court to be your certificate provider. Others include your doctor.
Registration of an LPA
The forms must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used. You don’t have to register them when they’re made (though you can if you wish). Many people opt to complete the forms but leave them unregistered until such time as they are needed.