A Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) is a document that allows someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of LPA – one for finance and property decisions, and the other for health and care decisions.
Many people make the mistake of viewing these documents as something to complete in later life. Sadly, the growing number of Court of Protection applications are testament to the fact that nobody can predict if and when they will lose mental capacity. This can happen because of an illness or accident, a stroke or dementia, at any point in life. Making an LPA early on ensures that the person or persons you trust manage your affairs, rather than someone appointed by the Court that you might not have chosen yourself.
With your permission, a finance and property LPA can be used as soon as it is registered, so it is really a very useful document to have regardless of your age! If for example you know you will be away on holiday or in hospital for a period of time, you can give the document to your attorneys and allow them to manage your affairs in your absence.
By contrast, a health and care Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used if you lose mental capacity.
For both types, the documents are usually registered as soon as they are made, so they are available when needed. Registration can take 9 – 12 weeks typically (depending on how busy the Office of the Public Guardian is) so it is advisible to deal with the process straight away. Some firms don’t register the LPAs until they are needed to save registration fees but this is extremely unwise. If you lost capacity and your would-be attorneys applied for registration, problems could be discovered at this stage and by then it is too late to make another LPA. We therefore recommend that LPA documents are always registered straight away.