lasting power of attorney health and finance

Arguably, LPAs (both ‘financial’ and ‘health’) are a good idea for any adults who are mutually dependant on each other. They’re used when one adult suffers a temporary incapacity (eg due to a severe injury). For anyone with a chronic brain disease like dementia, LPAs are an important personal safeguard. Find out how to apply for LPAs in this post.

When LPAs are a good idea

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.  An LPA can cover a person’s health, finances 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 lengthy rigmarole, an expensive application to the Court of Protection of £400 plus and potentially a lawyer. You can imagine how the costs may mount, try to avoid this route.

How to draft an LPA

I helped Marj complete her LPAs and I can tell you they are lot simpler than they may seem, as long as you approach them carefully and methodically.  Give yourself plenty of time.

There is no legal need to involve a third party like a solicitor (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’.

Preparation

Boiling it down, all you need is to:

  • decide whether you want to set up one LPA or both (health and/or financial).
  • decide who the attorneys should be.
  • collect the name, address, email (optional) and date of birth of both the donor and their attorneys.
  • find 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.
  • decide whether you want the attorneys to act ‘jointly’, that is, do everything jointly, including possibly co-signing cheques and care decisions. This can be inconvenient if attorneys are geographically separated. Acting ‘severally’, where one attorney can act or make decisions independently of another may be more convenient in your situation.  If you do decide to act severally, I’d encourage plenty of 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’ve heard stories from fellow carers who’ve tried many times to get this right and failed, sometimes because the donor wouldn’t accept that it was important.  To be honest, I found this part exasperating, so I recommend making 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, why not throw an LPA ‘party’ or meal together.
  • find £82 for each LPA application (less if you earn under £12,000 a year or receive certain income support).

Applying

I’d thoroughly recommend applying for an LPA online.  If you do it ‘old school’ by printing it off and completing by hand, you’re 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) over and over again. The other bonus to applying online is that after completing one LPA, with one click, you can copy the basic details over from the first LPA to the other.  This is a fantastic time saver, though unfortunately one I missed until it was too late (double aargh)!

You can do it.

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

Are you due a refund on an existing LPA?

Have you already registered an LPA? It’s worth checking 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, around £35.

If you haven’t set up an LPA for health and/or finance yet, do consider it. LPAs must be set up before the adult you care for loses mental capacity.  It isn’t possible past this point. Be sure to compete LPA applications accurately, sign in the right order and be clear about what you are signing. This is because LPA amendments have an admin fee, as well as taking more time. Ask your local Carer support organisation for support if you need help.

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

Have a great Easter bank holiday weekend everybody.

One older lady and one younger lady wearing easter bunny ears

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