A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you appoint someone, known as your attorney, that you trust to make important decisions for you if you’re ever unable to yourself. But, there are a lot of common fears and misconceptions about how LPAs work including how much control an attorney has over your affairs and how much control you ultimately relinquish.
Our partner, Co-op Legal Services, breaks down some of the most common LPA myths.
Common myths around LPAs
Can’t my next of kin make these decisions for me anyway?
No one automatically has the legal authority to make decisions for you about your health and care or about your financial affairs, not even your spouse or your children. Many people don’t realise this until it’s too late. Without an LPA, someone who you may not have chosen will need to apply to the court for a deputyship order instead, which can be a lengthy and expensive process. If there isn’t a family member or friend willing to do this, the local authority will take control over decisions relating to your finances and welfare.
Isn’t an LPA just for someone who is very old or unwell?
An accident or illness can happen at any time in life. To make an LPA, you need to have sufficient mental capacity to understand what you are doing. No one else can put this document in place for you after you have lost capacity. If you wait until the LPA is needed to put one in place, it will already be too late.
Will my attorney have immediate control over my affairs?
There are two types of LPA in England and Wales; one covers your health and care while the other covers your property and financial decisions. A health and care LPA will only come into effect if and when you lose capacity to make your own decisions. If you are making a property and finances LPA, you can choose to activate it sooner if you want to (for example, if you want your attorney to be able to go to the bank on your behalf).
Will my attorney have complete control over every aspect of my life?
You can choose the extent of some of the powers you grant to your attorney and you can stipulate when and how these powers are used. You can also include guidance for your attorney outlining your preferences and choices in certain situations. This means they can make informed decisions that they know align with your wishes. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to seek professional advice when making an LPA, to ensure that the document is drafted in the right way.
Can my attorney change my will?
Your attorney cannot change or update your will. An LPA does not give them legal authority to do so.
Will my attorney have free rein over my finances?
By making an LPA, you are not granting your attorney free rein over your finances. You decide how much control an attorney has over your finances and you decide the limits on what they can and cannot do with your assets. Your attorney is legally obliged to act in your best interests at all times, and if they fail to do so, they can be held accountable by the Office of the Public Guardian. Anyone can report the attorney to the OPG if they feel that the attorney is not acting in your best interests. The OPG will investigate the allegations to determine whether the LPA should be revoked.
Can’t I draft my own LPA for free through the government?
The government website provides a simple and effective way to create an LPA for those who know exactly what they want and have a good understanding of the law and the powers of an attorney. An LPA is a powerful legal document, which needs to be correctly drafted. The government service is a DIY service which doesn’t provide specific legal advice on how to draft this legal document, although it does provide general information and guidance. But importantly the document will not be discussed with you or be checked by a legal specialist meaning that there is risk of mistakes being made or the application of law being misunderstood.
If you do decide to draft your LPA yourself, remember that you will still need to pay the registration fee to the Office of the Public Guardian. This is currently £82 for each LPA, although this figure can be reduced if you can prove that you receive a low income or certain means tested benefits.
Make a lasting power of attorney online with Co-op Legal Services *
Alternatively, you can complete your LPA online, at a time and place that’s convenient for you, with the added benefit of specialist guidance.
Co-op Legal Services’ digital LPA service is easy to use and guides you through all the steps to put your LPA in place. The digital LPA service is far more than simply a DIY process. It’s been designed to unravel the legal complexities of making an LPA. You’ll be supported along the way with specialist guidance and you’ll be prompted to consider important scenarios, so the LPA is right for your individual circumstances. Your LPA will then be reviewed by a legal specialist.
Co-op Legal Services digital LPA service is a convenient, cost-effective way to put your LPA in place and give your chosen attorney authority to make decisions for you. You can make one LPA for £120 or two LPAs for £210, to cover both your health and your finances. These prices include VAT.
Please note, in addition to the cost of your LPA, you will need to pay a registration fee to the Office of the Public Guardian. As mentioned above, this fee is currently £82 per LPA.
The service is available online 24/7, so you can start creating your LPA at a time that suits you. Once your LPA has been reviewed by a legal specialist, it will be available to be sent to you straightaway for signing.
* We are occasionally paid by some providers if you click through from our website and utilise their services.