What is the role of a Lasting Power of Attorney?

14 March 2023

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney 

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so yourself. This could be due to an accident, illness or simply because you no longer have the mental capacity to make your own decisions. 

The individual registering an LPA is the ‘donor,’ and the person being nominated becomes their ‘attorney.’ You can appoint more than one attorney and decide whether they will act together or independently of each other. The people you choose are typically close friends or family members, but they can also be professionals, such as a solicitor. 

It is important to note that an LPA only comes into effect if you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions. If this happens, your attorney(s) will have the legal authority to decide on your behalf about your finances, property and healthcare. We will discuss these responsibilities in further detail later in the article. 

Why do you need a Lasting Power of Attorney? 

You might want to register a Lasting Power of Attorney for many reasons. For example, if you become seriously ill or have an accident, your attorney can manage your finances and property on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about it. This can be a huge weight lifted off your shoulders, especially if you are trying to focus on your recovery. 

Another common reason people register for an LPA is simply that they want to plan for the future. If you are worried about what might happen if you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions, an LPA gives you the peace of mind of knowing that there is someone you trust who can step in and make decisions how you would have intended. 

What types of decisions can my attorney make? 

Depending on your needs and wishes, you can appoint multiple LPAs to cover different areas of your life. The two official types of lasting power of attorney include a property and financial affairs LPA and a health and welfare LPA. 

A financial LPA gives your attorney the authority to make decisions about your finances and property, such as: 

  • Paying your bills 
  • Managing your bank account 
  • Selling your house 

On the other hand, a healthcare LPA gives your attorney the authority to make decisions about your healthcare, such as:

  • Consenting to or refusing medical treatment on your behalf 
  • Deciding where you should live 
  • Decisions about life-sustaining treatment if you’re unable to do so yourself 

Your LPA is also responsible for making a range of other personal decisions, such as what food and drink you consume, decisions about your daily care, what activities you will take part in, and more. You can read our previous article on arrangements for your pets with a lasting power of attorney here. 

Acting as an attorney – what does it involve? 

If you have been nominated as someone’s attorney, it is essential to understand what the role entails. As discussed, you will be responsible for making decisions on the donor’s behalf, in line with their wishes. This can be a big responsibility, so it is essential to be prepared. 

Before you start making decisions on behalf of the attorney, you should take time to understand their views, wishes, beliefs, and values. This will help you to make the best decisions on their behalf should they become unable to make those decisions themselves. 

You should also remember that being an attorney is a serious role and comes with several legal responsibilities. Whilst you won’t need any legal experience, you must always act in the donor’s best interests, and you must not profit from your position as their attorney. If you are unsure about your responsibilities or how to act in a particular situation, it’s vital to seek professional legal advice. Speak to our team at Redkite Solicitors for more information. 

How to register a Lasting Power of Attorney 

To create a legally binding agreement, you must register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The OPG is a government body that provides support and guidance on decision-making for people who lack the mental capacity to do so themselves. 

The registration process is relatively straightforward, but it is important to ensure everything is completed correctly. Working with a professional solicitor will ensure the process is carried out smoothly. 

Before registering your lasting power of attorney, you must contact the person or people you have appointed as your attorneys and let them know about your decision. They then have three weeks to contest the decision if they have any concerns. 

As soon as you’ve notified your attorney(s), you can complete your registration of a lasting power of attorney. The first step is completing the application form, which you can do online or via post. You will need to send the completed form and the registration fee, which costs £82. Registering both a Financial LPA and Health LPA will cost a total of £164.

Once your LPA has been registered, the agreement becomes legally binding. It is important to note that a lasting power of attorney only comes into force when you lose the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. 

If you would like help or guidance on registering your lasting power of attorney, or if you have any other queries about LPAs, please get in touch with our team of experts at Redkite Solicitors. We are here to help and support you through every step of the process

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.