Powers of attorney  

Mum & daughterAnyone aged 18 or over with full mental capacity may appoint someone else – their attorney - to make decisions and sign documents on their behalf. The formal document is the power of attorney and can take various forms (see below)

Sometimes we write a power of attorney if we anticipate a temporary change in circumstances that may make it difficult to manage our own affairs – for example an absence abroad. An ordinary power will usually be temporary, enabling your attorney to manage your affairs whilst you are out of the country. It will become ineffective if for any reason the donor of the power loses capacity perhaps as a result of accident or illness.

More often powers of attorney are needed where someone is becoming infirm, through illness or age, and may lose the ability to make decisions and manage their own affairs. Historically a form of document known as an enduring power of attorney (EPA) was used for this purpose. EPAs created before October 2007 may still be effective.

The EPA has since been replaced by the LPA – lasting power of attorney – which, as the name suggests, is intended to be long-term. Once registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) an LPA will remain effective even after the donor has become incapable. The attorney will usually be a child or grandchild.

Although it is possible to revoke a LPA while you still have capacity, the idea is to formalise  decisions about who you want to appoint and how you want them to manage your affairs prior to the time of need when you may not be able to communicate your choices, for example if suffering from a physical illness or dementia.

There are two types of LPA:

  • Health and care decisions – the attorney has the ability to make a wide range of decisions including day to day care routines, choices of nursing home, medical treatment and where necessary life-sustaining treatment.
  • Financial decisions – the attorney can make decisions about the donor’s money and property.  This could be as simple as paying bills or collecting pensions and benefits but will also enable them to take bigger decisions such as those regarding investment of assets and the sale or purchase of property.

Once either type of LPA is made it must be registered with the OPG before the attorney can act on the donor’s behalf.

Because these documents may transfer control of a person’s life and assets to someone else, they are complex, follow prescribed forms and require careful preparation. Often, not always, there is the process of registration with the OPG which also demands care.

Delay in dealing with the formalities once you think that an LPA may be needed can lead to a much more complicated and expensive state of affairs if the donor becomes incapable before making their LPA.

We have the expertise to advise on the correct use of these documents, to prepare and register them for you. We’ll help you choose and will liaise with the other people who need to be involved in the process including your attorney.

Don’t delay. We’re here to help. Contact us now for advice and peace of mind. Email us, or telephone 01460 200450.