Lasting Power of Attorney
Last reviewed on 9 December 2016
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document which allows one or more people (known as attorneys) to make decisions for you and to act on your behalf, including at some time in the future if you are no longer able to do this for yourself (called lacking 'mental capacity'). It could involve your attorney taking care of your money (such as paying bills or managing your savings and investments), your property (such as arranging repairs to your home or buying/selling property), your welfare (such as choosing where you live, what you eat and who you see) or your health (such as what medical treatment you receive).
Before it can be used, the LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
There are two types of LPA:
- Property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney. This allows your attorney/s to make decisions for you concerning your property and money. You (the donor) can appoint an attorney/s to do this for you at any time or you can state that they can only make decisions for you when you are unable to do this yourself.
- Health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. This can only be used once you (the donor) are unable to make your own decisions. Your attorney/s then make decisions about your health and welfare for you.
This guide explains how to set up an LPA in England and Wales. The system is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you're in Scotland, contact the Office to the Public Guardian (Scotland) for more information (01324 678 300). If you're in Northern Ireland, the Office of Care and Protection can help (028 9072 5953).
Why you might want a Lasting Power of Attorney
You may be concerned that your health might fail (such as if you were diagnosed with dementia) or that you are getting older and will one day not want or be able to manage your own affairs. An LPA lets you plan ahead for these possible eventualities. You can say now who you want to make decisions for you in the future. This gives you time to brief your attorneys on what you may want to happen in the future.
Similarly, if you have say an elderly relative, such as a parent, who is worried about how they might cope in the years to come, you could set their mind at rest by suggesting they set up an LPA now for future use.
What does an attorney do?
An attorney makes decisions for the person they have an LPA for. They can only do this if the LPA has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. An attorney must be at least 18 years old.
With a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney they can only make decisions for the donor if a court or medical professional has ruled that the donor is unable to make their own decisions because they do not have the mental capacity.
Attorneys must follow the Code of Practice of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and act in your best interests.
How to get a Lasting Power of Attorney
There are three steps to making a Lasting Power of Attorney:
- Choose your attorney(s)
- Fill in the relevant forms
- Register your LPA.
You must have mental capacity at the time you set up the LPA and to make sure no-one has forced you into signing an LPA, when you complete the forms you will appoint a person to be a 'certificate provider'. This is someone separate from your attorney(s) who confirms that you know what you're signing and understand the powers it will give your attorney(s). This can be someone you have known for two years or more or someone with professional knowledge of the situation such as doctor, social worker or solicitor.
As another safeguard, you can give details of up to five people who should be informed when an application is made to register your LPA. These are 'named persons' and can object to the registration if they have concerns.
- Complete the forms online (the quickest method)
- Download the forms and complete them by hand
- Ask for the forms to be sent to you by post by phoning 0300 456 0300
How to register an LPA
An LPA can only be used once it's been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
You don't have to register the LPA immediately. You could fill out the forms, have them signed by all the relevant parties and then register the LPA when it's actually needed. However, make sure your attorney(s) know where the document is, and are clear when and how to register it in case they need to. It's often wise to get the LPA registered while you still have full mental capacity because any mistakes in the document cannot be put right once a donor has lost capacity.
You have to pay a fee of £110 to register each LPA application unless you receive certain state benefits or are on a low income. If you think you may be entitled to a fee reduction or waiver you'll need to complete form LPA120 EPA and LPA fee, exemption and remission guidance.
It typically takes eight to 10 weeks to register an LPA. However, it can take much longer when demand is high.
How to cancel an existing LPA
You can cancel an LPA at any time providing you have the mental capacity to do so. You may want to do this because your circumstances change or you no longer want or need a particular person to make decisions for you.
To cancel an LPA you need to complete a Deed of Revocation form which you can get from a legal stationer or a legal adviser. This should then be sent to your attorney/s and the Office of the Public Guardian.
An LPA will automatically be cancelled if one of the events below occurs and there is no other attorney or replacement attorney to act for you.
- You or your attorney dies
- You or your attorney become bankrupt
- A marriage or civil partnership between you and the attorney is dissolved or annulled
- The attorney lacks the mental capacity to make decisions
- The attorney decides not to act for you