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What is an LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney)?
No one wants to think about what would happen if they were to lose mental capacity so that they could no longer manage their affairs independently. Many assume there is an automatic right for their “next of kin” (spouse, partner or children) to make decisions on their behalf if they are no longer able to do so. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
What is an LPA?
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are legal documents that enable you to appoint up to four attorneys of your choice (as well as replacement attorneys), to make decisions on your behalf.
Without an LPA, should you lose mental capacity in the future, it could mean that your family are faced with making an application to the Court of Protection to become your Deputy. This can be a costly and lengthy process at what can already be a very stressful and emotional time.
There are two types of LPA:-
- Property & Financial Affairs which give your attorney(s) the authority to manage your money in the bank, investments, pensions, settle your bills and even sell your property if this is in your best interests.
- Health & Welfare which gives your attorneys authority to consent or refuse to medical treatment on your behalf, as well as make decisions on where you live, your day to day care, complaints about your care and treatment and so on.
LPAs are sometimes misunderstood as documents you only prepare when you need them. However, it is essential to prepare them well before they are actually required, when there is no doubt as to your mental capacity.
It is worth noting that an LPA for property and finances can be also be very useful in some circumstances even when you retain mental capacity, for example, if you are moving abroad but still have assets in the UK, or if you become physically unwell or incapacitated for a period of time.
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