In our last blog, we discussed the importance of planning ahead and recording your wishes.
As we get older, the risk of Dementia can come into play, as well as other long-term illness which may affect everyday life. Our mental capacity can become lesser too. This is where it is worth considering the benefits of appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Discussing the possibility of losing our faculties is not an easy conversation; or a situation we like to think about. But the reality is, if you were to suffer a stroke, serious accident or dementia without something being in place first, it would likely make the situation worse.
If for example, you lose mental capacity, your relatives cannot simply just take over your everyday tasks, such as your banking, paying utility bills and making decisions on your behalf. They need consent and power to do.
Even if the money is for your care, they cannot simply access your bank accounts without authority. Unless you’ve a Power of Attorney, loved ones would need to apply through court, which can be long and costly
Another part of planning ahead is to consider Lasting Power of Attorney (or LPA). In this blog we will discuss what Lasting Power of Attorney is, why you should consider setting one up, how much it costs, and what is mental capacity.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where someone (while they still have mental capacity) nominates a relative or trusted friend to look after their affairs if they lost capacity.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney: one for Finances and Property and one for Health and Welfare. You can choose to have the same person(s) for both, or choose separate representatives.
If you require the same individual to have power of attorney over both aspects of your care, then you will have to fill out the two forms separately.
It’s important to note, you do not suddenly give up control once you have set up an LPA. You can choose whether it can be used either before, or only when, you lose mental capacity.
For example, let’s say you have an accident and are in a coma. If a decision needs to be made whilst you are in this comatose state, your representative will make decisions. If you wake, with capacity, you can then make decisions again.
It’s worth noting LPAs replaced the previous Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) system. EPAs set up before 1 October 2007 will still be valid, whether or not they have been registered, though they must be registered when the person loses capacity. For more, see the Government’s EPA info.
Why you should consider setting up Power of Attorney…
Every day we make decisions about our lives. The ability to make everyday decisions about our lives is otherwise known as/called mental capacity. Say for example, someone has suffered a brain injury, a stroke, has a learning disability or dementia, they may not be able to make decisions some or all of the time.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 says a person is unable to make a decision if they can’t do one of the following: understand information relevant to a decision; retain that information long enough to make the decision; use or weigh that information; or communicate the decision. Read more on the Act’s definition of capacity.
When you make a Power of Attorney in England and Wales, a ‘certificate provider’ decides if you’re capable of making that choice. This can be someone you’ve known for two years or someone with relevant professional skills.
It is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland, however. In Scotland, the ‘certificate provider’ must be a solicitor who is registered to practice law in Scotland or a doctor. In Northern Ireland, the process is slightly different, and you don’t need a certificate provider. There’s more on how it works in NI Direct’s Power of Attorney info.
How much does a Lasting Power of Attorney cost to set up?
There’s a compulsory cost of £82 to register a Power of Attorney (in England and Wales – it’s £77 in Scotland, £127 in Northern Ireland).
If you earn less than £12,000/year though, you can provide evidence to have a reduced fee of £41. There are also exemptions on fees depending upon certain benefits.
It’s £82 each for the Property and Finance LPA and the Health and Welfare LPA. If you get both, that’s £164.
It is possible to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney on your own, although you may choose (or need) to employ the help of a Solicior.
If you choose to make the application yourself, without the help of a legal professional, follow the steps to apply online.
The person making the Power of Attorney and their chosen representative/s must sign the forms. If you get stuck filling them out, call the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300.
In Scotland, you can download the forms from the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland). For help, call 01324 678 398.
Other useful sources:
Money Saving Expert: How to make a Power of Attorney
If you did not set up Power of Attorney in advance, application needs to be made to the Court of Protection. The court will appoint a deputy to make choices about the person’s finances, usually a family member or close friend.