Powers of Attorney give someone you trust the legal power to act or make decisions about you on your behalf.
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There are a number of reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf for example:
- You may be going into hospital and need help with everyday things such as making sure that bills are paid.
- You may need to make more long-term plans if, for example, you have been diagnosed with dementia.
There are two main types of Powers of Attorney:
Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that appoints a trusted relative, friend or professional (known as an attorney) to help manage your financial affairs and/or make decisions about your health and welfare.
Adults of all ages should consider making a LPA as anyone can lose mental capacity, for example, through illness, as a result of an accident or because of the onset of dementia.
There are two types of LPA: one for your property and financial affairs and another for your health and welfare and you can make one or both types.
- Property and financial affairs LPA - This allows you to choose one or more people to make decisions about money and property; for example, paying bills, collecting benefits, making investments, selling your home. This type of LPA can be used as soon as it is registered, with your consent, unless you stipulate otherwise.
- Health and Welfare LPA - This allows you to choose one or more people to make decisions such as where you live, who cares for you and your medical care, There is also an option to give your attorneys authority to make decisions about life sustaining treatment. A health and welfare LPA can only be used if you lose mental capacity.
Both types of LPA need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used.
Your attorneys cannot do whatever they like, they must act in your best interests and follow the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
By making a LPA, you do not suddenly give up control. In fact, you retain more control as if you do not have a LPA in place and need some help, someone may need to apply to the Court of Protection to be able to manage your affairs. You will then not have control over who applies to the court and this could mean that someone who you would not necessarily have chosen, will be able to make decisions on your behalf. The process can be costly and lengthy and can be very stressful for those involved.
Ordinary Powers of Attorney
If you want to give someone the authority to make decisions and take action concerning your finances, you can set up an ordinary power of attorney. Unlike Lasting Powers of Attorney these can only be used while you have mental capacity, so that you can keep an eye on what the person making decisions for you (your attorney) is doing.
You can limit the power you give to your attorney so that they can only deal with certain assets and it can also be limited for a period of time. An ordinary power of attorney can be revoked at and time and will be automatically revoked if you lose mental capacity.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney replaced the previous Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) system. An EPA set up before 1 October 2007 is still valid in relation to your finances, but it does not cover decisions relating to your health and welfare.
We Can Help You
At MW our mission is to make quality legal services accessible to everyone including those who cannot act for themselves. If you are in any doubt that you may need to establish Power of Attorney either for yourself or a loved one call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.