What is an LPA?
An LPA is a legal document that gives one or more people – known as attorneys – the power to make decisions on your behalf. Despite what the name suggests, attorneys can be pretty much anyone you choose. Typically, they’re family members or trusted friends.
The only restriction is that an attorney cannot be bankrupt or subject to a Debt Relief Order, for obvious reasons! There are two kinds of LPA, and we recommend you have both:
- Property and financial affairs.
- Health and welfare.
Property and financial affairs
A property and financial affairs LPA would be useful if you have to go into hospital, for example. You might be laid up for a few days and unable to get to the bank. Or you might feel too ill to cope with financial matters. Your attorney could help by withdrawing cash from the bank and making sure your bills are paid.
Health and welfare
The second kind of LPA covers health and welfare. This could be vital to you if the unthinkable happens and you fall victim to dementia, for example. It’s surprisingly common, affecting 1 in 14 people over 65 and 1 in 6 people over 80. The symptoms of dementia are associated with a decline in the correct functioning of your brain. It can diminish your mental sharpness, affect your judgement and cause memory loss.
With an LPA in place, you’ll have the peace of mind that one of your attorneys can make critical decisions about your health and welfare if you cannot. LPAs came into effect with the Mental Capacity Act of 2005, replacing EPAs (enduring powers of attorney).
There was only one kind of EPA, covering property and financial affairs. If you have one of those, it’s a good idea to have an LPA to cover health and welfare too. This would allow your children to help care for you while you remain in your home. Most people agree that they would rather remain in their own home than be forced into a care home.
When Should You Make an LPA?
There is only one sensible anster to this: RIGHT NOW!
The reason for this is that you never know when something might happen that causes a loss of capacity.
You might get up one morning to go to work or the shops and be involved in a car crash that puts you in hospital for a long time, maybe you are left unable to communicate properly because of a head injury.
If you have LPA’s your attorneys (typically family) can act for you .
If you don’t, then your family has to apply to the Office of the Public Guardian for someone to act as your Deputy (this is not an ideal situation), it is not guaranteed that the OPG will appoint a family member.