These are two of the most powerful and important legal documents in existence.
Whilst a Will conveys our wishes after we’ve departed Lasting Powers of Attorney relate to decision-making during our lifetime.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows a ‘Donor’ to choose someone they trust (known as an ‘Attorney’) to make decisions on their behalf, at a time in the future when they might not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. It is essential that this authority is set up whilst the Donor retains capacity.
The decline in mental capacity could be due to a number of circumstances such as the onset of dementia, a stroke, illness, disease or even a traffic accident.
It is a popular misconception to believe that, should we become unable to manage our own affairs, a relative or close friend could simply take control of matters. Without the prior appointment of Attorneys the Office of Public Guardian will act to protect us. The family can apply to the Court of Protection to regain some control however this can take many months and cost thousands of pounds, without any guarantee of success.
LPAs exist as two documents: Health & Welfare and also Property & Financial Affairs.
Usually an Attorney will be appointed for both forms of LPAs, since they can only act in areas where they have been given authority.
Attorneys are only able to make decisions that are in the best interests of the Donor.
Health & Welfare decisions may include significant choices such as:
– giving or refusing consent to particular types of health care,
– deciding whether the Donor needs help and support from Social Services to stay at home or
– choosing the right type of residential housing.
Property & Financial Affairs decisions might include:
– buying or selling property,
– opening, closing or operating any accounts containing the Donor’s funds or
– claiming, receiving and using benefits, pensions and allowances on their behalf.
An LPA can only be used once it has been registered with the Office of Public Guardian.