What is a Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney is the term given to the General Legal Instrument by which you empower a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf.  The term has come to be used interchangeably in many circles, to actually mean the Lasting Power of Attorney ( LPA ).  The LPA differs from the general power of attorney in that the LPA Attorney acts for you when you have lost your mental capacity.   It covers matters of your finances, and/or, your health and welfare, whereas the general power of attorney ends upon a person’s loss of mental capacity.

The Lasting Power of Attorney can save you and your family a lot of money and stress.  It removes the need and costs, of having to depend upon the government’s Court of Protection ( COP ) which takes over a person’s life should they lose mental capacity.  The COP process is very costly, and is not set up to react immediately to a person’s ‘now’ situation.  And it is very impersonal.  The LPA is available immediately, providing it has been registered with the OPG.

Given that there is an ever increasing queue at the door of the COP offices, it is little wonder that it is slow.  Over 25,000 families applied to the Court of Protection last year!  You can avoid that queue with an LPA, and ensure that people of your choice are ready to act for you immediately, in that time of need.  It also avoids the need for legal representation by the COP.

The LPA Attorney will deal with your “property and financial affairs”, and/or, your “health and personal welfare” matters.  And, because the LPA is recognised by banks, insurers, doctors, carers, and other relevant institutions, as the legal instrument of the person who made it – the “donor”.  i.e YOU;  your needs are taken care of as if it were you present and speaking.

Why do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?

With advances in medicine and lifestyles we are all enjoying longer lives.  However, the downside to this is that advanced age has its own afflictions.  You probably know of someone who has been affected by it  –  Coma  –  Stroke  –  Heart attack  – Dementia.  These and similar conditions are not limited to age, albeit the bias is towards the elder.  They can equally occur due to accident or illness including COVID-19, which leads to loss of mental, and/or, physical capacity.

Treating these conditions and particularly Alzheimers Disease and other Dementia, can eat heavily into a family’s valuable estate due the need for personal care services.  Modern anti-fraud laws mean that if you do not have an LPA ready, and ‘it’ happens to you, then the Court of Protection ( COP ) rules your world.  This may cause lots of family stress and costs, because it is the sick person who must be protected – by law.

The afflicted person’s bank accounts are frozen; even joint accounts with a spouse or partner.  In a marriage – you vowed your fidelity, not any authority.  So without an LPA, such trauma invokes a long, costly and stressful journey for your family.  Clients making their Will, ask “when should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?”  Our answer is ‘now’; along with your Will, because the self same rules of ‘life-risk’ and mental capacity apply.  And if you cannot do it now, then as soon as possible while it is fresh in your mind.

How to make a Power of Attorney?

To make a Lasting Power of Attorney, you can do it yourself (DIY) or preferrably ask a professional.   As with your Will and other matters in this legal arena, it is not as straight forward as the hype may have you believe.  For example, the LPA power is  usually invoked upon a person’s loss of mental capacity.  It therefore must be drawn up whilst you are still mentally and physically fit.  It is far too late to think about it after the effect.  If you miss it; it’s gone and the ensuing costs of the COP can be expected.

Edmunds and Eve can help you set up your Lasting Power of Attorney to create an appropriate financial and legal plan for yourself and your family.  It will help mitigate costs and stress, with the assurance that it works exactly as you want.

We have professional indemnity to protect you should we make a mistake.  Whereas in DIY, it is you who carries the can.

We ensure the person(s) you really trust is in place, so that your financial estate is protected and decisions about it and your health and welfare are made in your best interest.

Types of Lasting Power of Attorney

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney you can grant:

1. LPA for financial decisions

This type of LPA can be used whilst you still have mental capacity, or once you have lost mental capacity. Your appointed attorney (the person who makes decisions for you) has the power to withdraw money from your bank account and make decisions on such things as:

  • buying and selling property
  • paying your mortgage
  • handling your investments
  • paying your bills
  • arranging repairs to your property

2. LPA for health and care decisions

This type of LPA can only be used once you have lost mental capacity and you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  Your appointed attorney will generally be able to make decisions about your healthcare and personal welfare including:

  • where you should live
  • your medical care
  • what you should eat
  • who you should have contact with
  • what kind of social activities you should take part in.

The LPA must be certified and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used.

What is the difference between a Will and an LPA?

The Will and the LPA may appear to be similar beasts, however, they operate on completely different levels:

( a )  Your Will gives you control of how your wealth is organised and managed for your family after you die.

( b )  Your LPA protects your affairs if you lose your mental capacity through accident, illness or other health issues.  It by-passes the need for calling in the Court of Protection to involve itself in your life.  It will save a lot of expense and stress.

Why do I need expert help to make a  LPA?

The Lasting Power of Attorney is part of a good Estate Plan.  As Wills and Estate Planning specialists, Edmunds and Eve guarantee our service and ensure you understand the full implications and consequences of creating a Lasting Power of Attorney.  Our LPA certification services ensure that you are correctly advised and it fits what you really want and need.

Whilst nobody expects the worst to happen, and we sincerely hope it won’t, the relative probability of needing the LPA to be in place due to dementia for example, starts to increase rapidly from the age of about 45.  Yes; 45! According to the Office of National  Statistics ( ONS ).  But it could be anytime if you think about it for a minute.  Ask yourself for example – “why do I have to arrange car insurance annually”?  The same rules apply with the LPA.  And due to the laws on personal identity and financial privacy, noboby can act for you without your authority.  So your financial world is frozen.  Last year over 25,000 families applied to the Court of Protection because they did not have an LPA in place.  And they paid out many £millions for the privilege.  Not to mention the stress and aggravation of family members that have to take care of you.

If you would like to know more about how the law in this arena might affect you and your family, please feel free to call us for a confidential discussion on  – 0118 9 740 130 .  Alternatively, complete the email enquiry box below and we will be in touch shortly.

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