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Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney: Why They Matter and How They Work

Introduction: Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are essential legal tools that allow individuals to appoint trusted individuals to make decisions on their behalf when they are unable to do so themselves. In this article, we will discuss what LPAs are, the different types, when they can be used, and the process of creating one.

1. Defining Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
An LPA is a legal document that allows the person creating the LPA (the ‘Donor’) to appoint one or more trusted individuals (the ‘Attorney’) to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. These decisions can be related to financial matters, health, and care. There are two types of LPAs: one for financial decisions and another for health and care decisions.

2. When Can LPAs Be Used?
A health and care LPA can only be used if the Donor has lost capacity. However, a financial LPA can be used before the Donor loses capacity, provided they have given their Attorney(s) permission to do so.

3. The Importance of LPAs
Having an LPA in place serves as a form of ‘insurance policy’ that ensures the Donor’s chosen Attorneys can look after their financial needs and welfare if they become unable to do so themselves. LPAs can also alleviate stress for the Donor’s loved ones by providing clear legal documentation that allows them to focus on the Donor’s wellbeing rather than dealing with legal and administrative hurdles.

4. Appointing Attorneys
When choosing Attorneys, it’s crucial to select individuals who the Donor trusts completely, as they may be responsible for critical decisions related to the Donor’s finances, care, and medical treatment. It’s recommended to appoint two to three trusted individuals as Attorneys to ensure there is always someone available to act on the Donor’s behalf.

5. Creating an LPA
To create an LPA, the Donor should consult the GOV.UK website for guidance and forms. However, it is highly recommended to seek professional advice from a solicitor, especially one accredited through the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) or Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), to ensure the LPA is drafted correctly and includes all necessary powers for the Attorney(s).

6. Registering and Using an LPA
After the LPA has been created and signed, it must be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian for registration. Once registered, a certified copy of the LPA can be provided to relevant organizations, such as banks, utility companies, or medical providers, so they can update their records to reflect the appointed Attorneys.

7. What if There’s No LPA?
If someone loses capacity without an LPA in place, a Court of Protection application may be necessary to appoint a Deputy to handle the person’s affairs. Alternatively, if the person only has state benefit income, a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) appointeeship might be possible. Conclusion: LPAs are valuable legal tools that offer peace of mind by ensuring that trusted individuals can make crucial decisions on behalf of the Donor if they become incapacitated. If you need further advice about creating an LPA or dealing with a situation where someone has lost capacity without an LPA, consider consulting a legal professional experienced in this area.

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