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Lasting Powers of Attorney

Most people predictably think that you only need to consider signing one of these when you approach your old age. 

However, none of us can predict what paths our lives may take in the future - we might suffer unexpected illness or a stroke or even be in an accident, not of your making, which takes away your mental ability to manage your own affairs.

An LPA enables you to deal with all these situations in advance and can be for either your finances and property (known as a Property and Financial Affairs LPA) or your personal circumstances, such as where to live, day-to-day care (e.g. diet), life-sustaining treatment or even what you wear (known as a Health & Welfare LPA).

Anyone over 18 with a full understanding of what they are doing (mental capacity) can make an LPA, and if desired, more than one attorney can be appointed either to act together or separately, or together in respect of some decisions and separately in respect of others.  But in all decisions, the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 must be followed, and the attorneys must act in your best interests and, if you are capable, consult with you on all their decisions.

An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it may be used.  If you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, it is too late to sign an LPA, and someone will have to apply to the Court of Protection to become your Deputy - who may not be the person you would have chosen as your attorney.  The procedure for this is a lot more time-consuming and expensive than an LPA, and there are ongoing annual requirements for COP fees and reports, whereas the procedure to register an LPA takes two to three months.  If there is urgency to appoint an attorney to act, a shorter General Power of Attorney document may be executed, which will suffice for 12 months provided the maker of the document has not lost/does not lose mental capacity after its creation.

The message is clear - you owe it to your family to discuss this with them and to complete the appropriate LPA.

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