Written for Saving Champion by Co-op Legal Services
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you appoint someone you trust to step in and make important decisions for you, in case you’re ever unable to make these decisions yourself. This person is called your attorney, and you can appoint them to make decisions about the health and care you receive or about your property and finances, or both.
Making an LPA isn’t about giving up control, it’s actually the opposite. By making an LPA, you can retain control over who manages your affairs, how decisions are made for you and what you would like to happen in certain situations.
If you’ve appointed an attorney to make decisions for you about your health and care, this will not come into effect unless you lose mental capacity. If you’ve appointed an attorney to help manage your finances, you can decide if you’d like this to come into effect while you still have mental capacity. This might be useful if you can’t get to the bank because of mobility issues, for example, and you want your attorney to be able to do this your behalf. Alternatively, you can choose for this to come into effect only when you lose mental capacity. Ultimately, you’re in control.
There’s set guidance for assessing someone’s mental capacity under the Mental Capacity Act. This law sets out that the individual should be helped as much as possible to make their own decisions before they are tested for mental capacity.
Why is it important?
If you’re ever in a position where you’re unable to make decisions for yourself, no one has the legal authority to make these decisions for you. Not even your immediate family.
If you become unwell in the future and can no longer care for yourself, would you want to be cared for in your own home, or in a residential care setting? How would you like your hair to be cut? Is there any medical treatment you’d opt not to have? How would you like to invest your savings? Which brands of products would you prefer to use?
This is where your attorney comes in. With the right support you can set up an LPA that not only gives your attorney the authority to make these decisions, but also steers them in the right direction to help them make the right choices for you. If you haven’t made an LPA, the only option would be for someone (and it may not be the person you would want) to make a lengthy and expensive application through the court for a deputyship order, then make decisions based on what they think you might have wanted.
You can think of an LPA almost like an insurance policy – although you hope never to need it, it’s worthwhile to have it ready and waiting if you do.
Your attorney’s activity would also be supervised and overseen by a government body called the Office of the Public Guardian, for additional peace of mind.
What does it cover?
There are two types of LPA available in England and Wales. A financial decisions LPA covers any assets, property and money you own in England or Wales, while a health and care LPA covers your welfare, medical treatment and day to day care. You can put just one type of LPA in place, or you can put both in place to cover all bases.
A financial decisions LPA can come into effect straight away if you want it to, even if you still have capacity to make your own decisions. You might choose to do this if you want someone to help you with selling a property, for example, or go to the bank on your behalf. Alternatively, you can choose for it to only come into effect if and when you lose the ability to make decisions yourself.
A health and care LPA will only ever take effect if and when you become unable to make your own decisions.
In each LPA you can appoint one attorney to act alone, or you can appoint multiple attorneys to make decisions together or separately. You can also name replacements who can step in if your original attorney isn’t able to act when the time comes. If you’re making both types of LPA, you can appoint the same attorneys in each.
How do you set up an LPA?
There are a number of ways to set up an LPA. You could book an appointment to visit a solicitor’s office, where you can discuss your requirements and instruct them to draft your LPA for you.
Another option is to make your LPA without any legal support, so therefore no fee other than the cost to register the document, by simply filling out the forms on the Government website. The risk with this is that the LPA may not be tailored to your individual circumstances nor cater to the various scenarios that your attorney could be faced with in the future. If you have a comprehensive understanding of how an LPA works and how to tailor it to your needs, then this option could work for you.
Alternatively, you can complete your LPA online, at a time and place that’s convenient for you, with the added benefit of specialist guidance.
Make a digital lasting power of attorney with Co-op Legal Services *
Co-op Legal Services’ has developed a new digital LPA service which is easy to use and guides you through all the steps to put your LPA in place. You’ll be supported along the way with specialist guidance and you’ll be prompted to consider important details, so the LPA is right for your individual circumstances.
The digital LPA service is far more than simply a DIY process. It’s been cleverly designed to unravel legal complexities, by guiding you through several comprehensive questions and scenarios. As you progress through the journey, you’re prompted to consider your individual wishes and understand what options are available to you. All the resulting documents 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. 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 you’ve completed the digital journey, all legal documentation will be reviewed by a legal specialist and they’ll call you to make sure it’s correct. Once confirmed, the LPA will be available to be sent to you straightaway, ready for signing.
About Co-op Legal Services
Co-op Legal Services offers expert legal advice without the jargon, with a range of legal services from a brand you can trust and transparent, fixed fee pricing.
Co-op Legal Services is a full-service law firm specialising in probate and estate administration, estate planning, employment law, family law, serious injury and medical negligence.
They are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), meaning they must meet the SRA’s high regulatory standards. They also have insurance covering any work carried out and all client money is protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), for additional peace of mind.
Co-op Legal Services strives to make the law accessible to everyone, helping people understand how the law can protect what’s most important to them. As part of the Co-op Group their values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service they provide.
* We are occasionally paid by some providers if you click through from our website and utilise their services.