A Lasting Power of Attorney provides an opportunity to make provision in advance for the possibility of you becoming incapable of managing your own financial and welfare affairs. This is even more important now due to life expectancy increasing along with mental incapacity. By putting an LPA in place whilst you are fit and well enables you to choose who will have the responsibility for looking after your affairs at a time when it is vital that they are dealt with efficiently and sympathetically.
Without a Lasting Power of Attorney it would be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection for a person to be appointed as a Deputy. Applying to be a Deputy can be expensive and time consuming. The costs include an application fee, registration fee and a supervision fee (if it is needed). If it became necessary to make an application for a Deputy to be appointed this would cause delay at a time which is already difficult.
If you put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney in advance of any mental incapacity, it will be available for your Attorney to utilise as and when the time comes without any delay giving you complete peace of mind.
It is possible to appoint more than one attorney. If you do decide to appoint two attorneys then it is necessary to decide whether they should act jointly together so that all decisions and powers required both Attorney's permission or jointly and severally which means that the attorneys can act either alone or separately giving more flexibility. It is possible to appoint attorneys to act jointly in connection with some matters and severally in respect of others. An important factor to bear in mind when appointing attorneys to act jointly is in the event of one of them predeceasing you the LPA would fail as the power was given jointly. Therefore, your LPA should deal with the possibility of an attorney predeceasing you.
You may grant general or limited power. If a general power is granted then the attorneys may manage all your property and affairs. If any restrictions or conditions are to apply then they must be clearly stated.
The Attorney's powers may be restricted. The LPA can also state that it should only come into operation once you no longer have mental capacity.
The Attorneys only have limited power to make gifts of your money or property.
Attorneys must observe the Code of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Code provides guidance and information to all those working under the legislation.
An Attorney can make a range of decisions including buying and selling of your house and other assets, dealing with your tax affairs, operating bank and building society accounts and claiming benefit on your behalf. These can be used at your direction while mentally capable and also by the Attorney if you lack capacity to make these decisions.
A Certificate Provider is either someone who knows you well or a professional person. The Certificate Provider must sign the form to confirm that they have discussed the contents of the LPA with you on your own (if possible) and that they can state that you understand the purpose and scope of the LPA. Further the Certificate Provider needs to confirm that no undue pressure or fraud is involved in the decision to make an LPA and there are no other factors preventing the creation of the LPA.
It is possible to ensure there is some accountability in place that the Attorney(s) has to comply with such as producing annual accounts.
An LPA needs to be registered before it can be used by your Attorney and it can be registered whilst you still have mental capacity. You can decide when you want your Attorney to be able to use the LPA before the loss of mental capacity or only on such loss.
It is no longer possible to enter into either an ordinary Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Attorney. The huge disadvantage of an ordinary Power of Attorney was that as soon as the person giving the Power of Attorney lost capacity the Power of Attorney was invalid. Also, a Power of Attorney was open to abuse with no accountability in place.
It is possible to register an Enduring Power of Attorney when a person loses capacity. However, if it is not registered until capacity is lost this will cause delay at a very difficult time. An Enduring Power of Attorney enabled an Attorney only to deal with financial affairs and not property or health and welfare matters. Further there is a risk of such a power being abused by the Attorney as it is not possible to control the Attorneys powers to the same extent as a Lasting Power of Attorney not to put in place certain conditions.