A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lack mental capacity at some time in the future or no longer wish to make decisions for yourself.
There are two types of LPA:
- for financial decisions
- for health and care decisions
1. LPA for financial decisions
This can be used while someone still has mental capacity. An attorney (the person who makes decisions for you) can generally make decisions on things such as:
- buying and selling property
- paying the mortgage
- investing money
- paying bills
- arranging repairs to property.
2. LPA for health and care decisions
This covers decisions about healthcare as well as personal welfare and can only be used once a person has lost mental capacity. An attorney can generally make decisions about things such as:
- 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.
You can restrict or specify the types of decisions your attorney can make or you can allow them to make all decisions on your behalf.
If you’re setting up an LPA for financial decisions, your attorney must keep accounts and make sure their money is kept separate from your money.
You can request regular details of how much is spent and how much income you have. This offers you an extra layer of protection. If you lose mental capacity, these details can be sent to your solicitor or a family member.
Lasting powers of attorney were introduced in October 2007, replacing the old system of enduring power of attorney (EPA). An EPA created before October 2007 remains valid.
When is a lasting power of attorney valid?
An LPA will only be valid if you have:
- the mental capacity to set it up
- you have not been put under any pressure to create it.
It must be your decision and you must be able to trust your attorney, as you're giving them extensive power to make decisions about your life.
The LPA must be signed by a certificate provider who confirms that you understand it and haven’t been put under any pressure to sign it. They must be someone you know well or a professional person, such as a doctor, social worker or solicitor.
The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used.
How to set up a lasting power of attorney
To register your LPA, first get the forms and an information pack from the OPG. You can download the forms or fill them out online.
Alternatively, a solicitor or local advice agency can help you set up the LPA and register it.
Contact the OPG for information about LPA registration fees. If you have a low income, you may be eligible for a 50% discount, and if you’re receiving certain benefits you won’t have to pay anything at all.
You must register the LPA while you have the mental capacity to do so. The LPA can’t be used during the registration process which takes at least four weeks. You can contact the OPG if you need to find out if your LPA has been registered.
If you lose mental capacity but signed the LPA while you still had mental capacity, the attorney can register it for you. You can get a certified copy from the OPG for a fee.