If you know anything about Lasting Powers of Attorney, you probably think they are something you might need when you’re older and close to losing the ability to make your own decisions. Our advice is that you should think about signing Lasting Powers of Attorney now, whatever your age. Here are some reasons not to put it off :-
- Lasting Powers of Attorney are not just useful if you lose mental capacity. You can give your consent to your attorney to use the Lasting Power of Attorney for certain things. For example, you might begin to lose mobility and choose to send your attorney to the bank for you.
- You can specifically authorise your attorney to do certain things for you whilst you’re away. For example, you might want your attorney to deal with a house sale whilst you’re away for a long holiday.
- If you own a business, you should consider signing a Lasting Power of Attorney as part of your continuity plan.
- Once you lose the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself, it’s too late to sign Lasting Powers of Attorney.
- Lasting Powers of Attorney usually avoids the need to apply to the Court of Protection. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, someone would have to apply to court to be able to make decisions on your behalf.
- Lasting Powers of Attorney can avoid arguments amongst loved ones left to pick up the pieces about what you would have wanted.
- Life is unpredictable. An accident can lead to mental incapacity unexpectedly.
- Lasting Powers of Attorney are like an insurance policy. Maybe you’ll never need to claim but you have a policy for peace of mind because once the worse happens, it’s too late to take out a policy. Make Lasting Powers of Attorney now for peace of mind just in case.
- We are freezing our fees for Lasting Powers of Attorney until 31st August 2017. Go to the bottom of this article for the figures.
Sadly the likelihood is that many of us will experience some form of physical or mental incapacity at some point during our lives. At that time, Lasting Powers of Attorney could make life for you and your family much easier.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document whereby an adult with mental capacity, the donor, can appoint a person or people they trust to act on their behalf as their attorney or attorneys.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, one to allow your attorneys to deal with your property and financial affairs, such as manage your bank accounts or sell your home. The other allows your attorneys to deal with matters relating to your health and welfare, but this document cannot be used until you have lost mental capacity.
Both documents have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used.
Who can be an attorney?
Anyone over the age of 18 for a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. For a Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney, anyone over 18 who has not been declared bankrupt. However, when thinking about who to appoint as your attorneys it is vital that you appoint people that you trust as an attorney can make decisions as if they were the donor, apart from a few limitations such as consent to marry or divorce. An attorney should always act in the best interests of the donor.
Once the Lasting Power of Attorney is registered, with your consent your attorneys are able to deal with your property and financial affairs before you lose mental capacity, for example should you be unable to sign a document as you have broken your wrist or are away on holiday. The document also allows your attorneys to act on your behalf generally should you no longer have mental capacity.
When is the best time to complete Lasting Powers of Attorney?
Now! Just like a Will, it is sensible to have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place so that should it ever be needed it is already in place to allow things to run smoothly for the donor and their family.
What if I have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)?
Lasting Power of Attorneys came into force on 1 October 2007. The document used prior to Lasting Power of Attorneys was an EPA and if valid prior to 1 October 2007 remains in force. However, EPAs can only be used to manage the donor’s property and financial affairs, not their health and welfare.
An EPA need only be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian once the donor has lost capacity and is no longer able to be involved in managing their own affairs.
What happens if I lose mental capacity and do not have EPA or Lasting Powers of Attorney?
Without a Lasting Power of Attorney or EPA your family would have to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order. This process is costly and time consuming. During this time no-one will be able to manage your financial affairs.
Can it be cancelled?
Lasting Powers of Attorney can be cancelled so long as the donor continues to have mental capacity.
How can we help?
We will prepare the Lasting Powers of Attorney, ensure that they are signed correctly, act as your Certificate Provider and send the Lasting Powers of Attorney to be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. A Certificate Provider has to sign the Lasting Power of Attorney to confirm that you have capacity to make the Lasting Power of Attorney and understand what it means. In most cases, a solicitor can make that assessment and be your Certificate Provider.
Until 31st August 2017, the following fees apply:
One Lasting Power of Attorney £350.00
Both Lasting Powers of Attorney for one person £400.00
One Lasting Power of Attorney for a couple (two documents) £600.00
Both Lasting Powers of Attorney for a couple (four documents) £700.00
There is also a registration fee payable to Office of the Public Guardian which is £82.00 per application, unless a reduction or exemption applies.
This means that the maximum amount a couple would pay for four Lasting Powers of Attorney would be £1028.
We are freezing these figures until 31st August 2017. Phone 01782 627589 for more information or to make an appointment and mention this article.
About the author
Ann McCabe is a solicitor and founder of Ann McCabe Solicitors. She qualified as a solicitor in 1993 and has specialised in family law ever since. She has worked in Newcastle under Lyme since 1994.