A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets a person (the donor) appoint one or more people (known as attorneys) to help them make decisions or to make decisions on their behalf. This gives the donor more control over what happens if they have an accident or an illness and cannot make their own decisions. The donor must be 18 or over and have mental capacity (the ability to make your own decisions) when they make the LPA.
There are two types of LPA:
- health and welfare
- property and financial affairs.
The donor can choose to make one type or both. The LPA must be registered with the Office for the Public Guardian before it can be used.
The Powers of Attorney Act 2023 has now been passed, although it is not yet in force. At the moment, the process of making and registering and LPA is a paper based one. When the Act comes into force, an online process will be available.
It is claimed that the new process will provide safeguards against fraud by allowing checks on the identity of those applying for an LPA. However, many commentators are worried that vulnerable people could be at risk either from abuse of power by people trying to force them to make an LPA or for those who do not have access to computers and a digital service. The Law Society has stated that:
'Maintaining this paper route is essential to ensure that vulnerable people are not disadvantaged by the government's proposals.'
Many people try to make an LPA for themselves - but it is a technical area. Expensive errors can be made if a couple own a house and appoint each other to be their attorneys – this can cause difficulty when the house is sold after one or both parties has lost mental capacity. People should therefore carefully consider whether taking professional advice is a good idea. And if anyone has concerns about the new digital process when it is introduced, making a paper-based application now will give them the peace of mind that they need.
To discuss this or any other wills and probate matter, contact us.