lasting power of attorney health and finance

When LPAs are a good idea

Arguably, LPAs (both ‘financial’ and ‘health’) are a good idea for any adults who are mutually dependant on each other.  For anyone with a chronic brain disease like dementia, LPAs are an important personal safeguard. However they are equally important for any couple, especially those who enjoy extreme sports, where one may suffer a temporary incapacity.

An LPA ensures that should a person become mentally incapacitated temporarily or permanently, a trusted partner, family member or friend can step in to act in their best interests (health, financial or both).

You may not be aware that without an LPA, spouses or blood relatives will NOT necessarily have a say over a loved one’s finances or health should they not be able to make their own decisions.  Even if they share a bank account, which could be frozen. Worryingly, without an LPA, accountants and lawyers are likely to step in and make the decisions instead. Contesting this involves a lengthier rigmarole, an expensive application to the Court of Protection of £400 plus and potentially a lawyer – do try to avoid this route.

I’ve helped Marj complete her LPAs and I can tell you they are lot simpler than they may seem, as long as you take you approach them methodically.

There is no legal need to involve a third party like a solicitor either (who will likely charge you £400-£1,000), but do make sure you understand the options fully and do seek help if you need it – always understand what you are signing.

Jargon wise, the adult seeking to give LPA to another is called the ‘donor’. The person / people asked to step in when required are called ‘attorneys’. The independent third party who witnesses the drawing up of the LPA, to ensure that the donor has the capacity to do so, is called a ‘certificate provider’.

In essence, all you need is:

  • to decide whether you want to set up one LPA or both (health and/or financial).
  • to decide who the attorneys should be.
  • the name, address, email (optional) and date of birth of both the donor and their attorneys.
  • a certificate provider (and their name and address).  The certificate provider must be over 18, have read the LPA and have known the donor for over two years (or have relevant professional skills or experience).  The certificate provider must NOT be a family/extended family member or employer or business partner or an attorney or an owner/manager/director/employee of a care home where the ‘donor’ lives.
  • to decide whether you want the attorneys to operate ‘jointly’ (that is, do everything jointly, including possibly co-signing cheques and care decisions, which can be inconvenient if attorneys are geographically separated) or severally (that is, one attorney can act or make decisions independently of another).  If you decide to act severally, I’d still encourage open consultation between attorneys.
  • decide when and where you are all going to get together to sign it.  This is because the signatories of the LPAs need to sign and witness in the right order for it to be valid.  I have heard stories from fellow carers who tried many times to get this right and failed, sometimes because the donor would not accept that it was important.  To be honest, it did my head in, so I would make it simple for everyone.  Arrange for everyone to be in the same room at the same time, on the same day.  That way, everyone can sign at the same time. Heck, I’d even recommend an LPA ‘party’ or meal together.
  • find £82 for each LPA application (less if you earn less than £12,000 a year or receive certain income support).

If you haven’t set up an LPA for health and/or finance yet, do consider it before the adult you care for loses mental capacity.  It isn’t possible past this point.

Drafting one or both LPAs may well seem like an awful milestone in a cruel illness, but in actual fact LPAs are as important as wills for all of us with partners and families, of and at any age.

I’d thoroughly recommend applying for an LPA online.  If you do it ‘old school’ by printing it off and completing by hand, you are likely to 1) use the wrong colour ink (like I did) and have to start again (argh) and/or 2) get repetitive strain from filling out the same tedious info (names and addresses for goodness sakes) over and over again. The other bonus to applying online is that after completing one LPA, with one click you can request that the details you have just entered be copied over from the first LPA to the other.  This is a fantastic time saver, unfortunately one I missed until it was too late (double aargh)!

You can do it.

So, are you ready?  For (much more) detail on what both LPAs cover and how to apply for them, click here.

One last thing, be sure to compete LPA applications accurately, sign in the right order and be totally sure about what you are signing. This is because LPA amendments have an admin fee, as well as taking more time. Your local Carer support organisations will be able to support you if you need help.

[If you happen to be reading this article after already registering an LPA (dear Lord, why?), you may as well check whether you made your application between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017.  If you did, your donor may be eligible for an LPA refund. In which case, ‘go you’ for reading this after all, it got the donor around £35 back!]

Have a great Easter bank holiday weekend everybody.

One older lady and one younger lady wearing easter bunny ears