Your guide to the different types of power of attorney
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After speaking to Will writer Nicola Richardson at Richardson’s Wills, it’s clear that many of us could be doing more to safeguard our futures, namely by appointing a power of attorney.
Nicola shares everything you need to know about powers of attorney.
Q: What is power of attorney?
A: Power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint people (‘attorneys’) that you trust to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf when you’re unable to do so yourself.
Q: What are the different types of lasting power of attorney and how do they differ?
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A: Lasting powers of attorney (LPA) are divided into two main types: property and financial affairs and health and welfare.
A property and financial affairs LPA allows your attorney/s to pay your bills and manage your finances. This can be utilised from the moment it is registered – at this point, the attorney/s is only running errands on your behalf.
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The health and welfare LPA is used if you lose mental capacity. The attorney you appoint will be in charge of making decisions on your behalf around where you live and the type of care you receive. This lasting power of attorney is about looking after you as a person, whereas the previous is focused on managing your finances.
Q: Why might I need a power of attorney?
A: If you don’t have a property and financial affairs LPA in place before you become incapable of making decisions yourself, the court will decide who will look after your assets and finances – it is most likely to be handed over to the local authority in this case. Neither you or anyone else you trust will have a say in this.
With regards to health and welfare LPA, if you haven’t made it and get diagnosed with dementia or another cognitive impairment, social services and the NHS will make decisions for you. Even if you have a family member who is looking after you, if you haven’t appointed them as your attorney, they have no power to overturn decisions made on your behalf. This is a really powerful document, protecting you when you’re most vulnerable.
Q: Who should I choose as my attorney?
A: Your attorney/s must be over 18, and a trustworthy individual – they should not have a history of alcohol or drug abuse and, specifically for property and financial affairs LPA, they can’t have experienced bankruptcy.
People usually appoint their spouse or children, but this can be anyone you trust to make the right decisions for you.
Q: What is the difference between lasting and enduring power of attorney?
A: Enduring powers of attorney (EPA) were replaced by lasting powers of attorney in October 2007. This means that although any existing EPA’s are still valid, they are no longer being made.
Enduring powers of attorney only cover the property and finance side and can only be registered when you’ve lost mental capacity. It can take nearly twelve weeks to complete registration, so you may not be able to use your power of attorney when you need it most.
Lasting powers of attorney are registered immediately, so even if you already have an enduring power of attorney in place, I would always recommend ending this and making an LPA instead.
Q: When should I make a lasting power of attorney?
A: I would suggest that anyone over the age of 30 should definitely think about it. It’s never too early to make one, but it’s very often too late. If, later in life, you decide you want to amend your LPA, it is possible to make a new one.
We have a special offer available until the new year with each LPA costing only £99.50 plus VAT and registration fee, so now may be the best time to contact us to make one.
Q: How can I get a lasting power of attorney?
A: You don’t have to go to a solicitor to make an LPA. We are a small, friendly firm, offering an expert service at an affordable price. We can also apply for a reduction of the registration fee if you’re entitled to it.
Contact us and arrange a chat with myself. We will go through everything in detail to ensure you understand the documents before conducting the administrative work involved in registering for your LPA.
Visit www.richardsonswills.co.uk/will-writing-services/lasting-power-of-attorney for more information. Contact Nicola on 01275 851056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.