What is a lasting power of attorney (LPA)? A lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows you to give someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime.

In this guide we look at the types of LPA you might need.

Who is this guide for?

  • Those putting their end of life affairs in order
  • Someone wanting to know the difference between the two types of lasting power of attorney
  • Anyone worried about what may happen if they don't make a lasting power of attorney

Reading time:

 3 mins

What is a lasting power of attorney (LPA)

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone you trust to act as your attorney.  Your attorney has the power to make decisions on your behalf whilst you are still alive. However they are unable to do so if you lose the capacity in the event of mental health problems or through serious injury. 

There are two types of LPA:

  • Property and Financial Affairs
  • Health and Welfare

What you should know

It is important to be aware that if you are married or in a civil partnership, without a lasting power of attorney. Your spouse or partner will not have the automatic authority to deal with your financial affairs or make decisions about your welfare.

Property and Financial Affairs lasting power of attorney

A property and financial affairs LPA allows you to choose one or more persons to make decisions and manage your money and property.

A property and financial LPA can be used as soon as it has been registered. Allowing for adjustment on and off as often as needed. This can be useful if you are immobile for a short period of time. For example during a short stay in hospital. Or if you needed someone to run your finances whilst you are on holiday or away from home. Lastly, it can be used on a more permanent basis for people suffering from a long term illness such as dementia. 

Health and Welfare lasting power of attorney

A health and welfare LPA provides your chosen attorneys with the power to decide on your ongoing medical and care needs.

You can also provide your attorneys with the power to refuse life-sustaining treatment on your behalf. The health and welfare LPA can only be used once you have lost the capacity to make these decisions yourself.

The difference between a lasting power of attorney and an advance decision document

An LPA is the only way to ensure that you choose the person(s) you want to make your decisions for you. It also allows you to set certain restrictions or provide your attorneys with some guidance.

An advance decision document is a legal method for ensuring your end-of-life care proceeds as you want it to. Which you can draw up yourself.  It is more comprehensive than a Health and Welfare lasting power of attorney and  provides your attorney with written instructions that they can use on your behalf.  

What happens if I don't make a LPA?

If you become unable to manage your own affairs and you do not have an LPA in place. Then financial institutions are under an obligation to freeze your assets so that your funds cannot be accessed.

Although the intention behind this is to protect you from possible abuse whilst you are vulnerable. It also means that your family and dependants would have no access to your money when they may need it. Even joint bank accounts may be frozen if one of the owners becomes incapacitated.

When should I make a LPA?

You will need to make an LPA whilst you still have full mental capacity.   It cannot be applied for by someone else on your behalf.

If you do lose your capacity and have not put an LPA in place, your family will need to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order. They will then decide who is appointed as your deputy and what restrictions they will have.

The court’s priority will be on your protection rather than your family’s wellbeing. With there being no guarantee that the court will choose the person you would have liked as deputy. Although dependent on circumstances they may decide to instruct a professional deputy, which would come at a further cost.

In addition to the loss of control, there is also a significant cost in making a court application, and the process can be extremely time-consuming.

It is always advisable to plan for the possibility, even if you are not expecting to need an LPA anytime soon. Unfortunately, you cannot always predict the onset of an illness or an accident.

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About the author 

Kim Bird

Kim, the founder of Before You Go, is a funeral cost expert and regularly appears in the press, on TV and on radio. She began campaigning for greater funeral price transparency over 10 years ago. Kim is a member of Parliamentary Groups for funerals and bereavement.

In 2017, Kim was included in the Maserati 100 & The Sunday Times list of top 100 UK entrepreneurs for having a positive impact on society and her industry.

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