Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document. It allows you to appoint someone that you trust as an "Attorney" to make decisions on your behalf. Attorneys can make decisions for you when you know longer wish to or when you lack the mental capacity to do so.
A Lasting Power of Attorney cannot be used until it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
The benefits of a Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney can help you plan how your health, wellbeing and financial affairs will be looked after. It allows you to plan in advance:
- The decisions you want to be made on your behalf if you lose capacity to make them yourself
- The people you want to make these decisions
- How you want the people to make these decisions
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney is a safe way of maintaining control over decisions made for you because:
- It has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used
- You choose someone to provide a "Certificate" which means they confirm that you understand the significance and purpose of what you are agreeing to
- You can choose who gets told about your Lasting Power of Attorney when it is registered (so they have an opportunity to raise concerns)
- Your signature and the signatures of your chosen Attorneys must be witnessed
Your Attorney must follow the code of practice of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and act in your best interests
- The Office of the Public Guardian provides helpful support and advice
The different types of Lasting Power of Attorney
There are two different types of Lasting Powers of Attorney:
- Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
- Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney
Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to choose one or more people to make decisions for things such as medical treatment. A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used if you lack the ability to make decisions for yourself.
Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney
A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney lets you choose one or more people to make property and financial affairs decisions for you. This could include decisions about paying bills or selling your home. You can appoint someone as your Attorney to look after your property and financial affairs at any time. You can also include a condition that means the Attorney can only make decisions when you lose the ability to do so yourself.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
Enduring Powers of Attorney were replaced by Lasting Powers of Attorney on the 1st October 2007. An Enduring Power of Attorney granted before the 1st October 2007 is still valid and will continue to be effective.
The Court of Protection
Where a person who is having difficulty making their own decisions doesn't have either a Lasting Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Attorney it may be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection.
The Court of Protection makes decisions for people who are unable to do so for themselves. It can appoint someone (called a "Deputy") to act for people who are unable to make their own decisions. These decisions are for issues involving the persons property, financial affairs, health and personal welfare.
The Court of Protection can:
- Decide whether a person is able ("has capacity") to make a particular decision for themselves
- Make decisions on financial or welfare matters on behalf of people who are unable to do so
- Appoint a Deputy to act for someone who is unable to make their own decisions
- Decide whether a Lasting or Enduring Power of Attorney is valid
- Make a Will on behalf of someone who lacks capacity