Once you hit 18, your life is your own. But with that comes a raft of adult responsibilities that you probably don’t even want to think about right now. However, one of the important pieces of paperwork you may need to consider even at this early stage in your life is an LPA.
The Office of the Public Guardian saw a drop of 24.6% in the number of applications logged for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) and Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) in 2020-21. The suspicion is that Covid-19 slowed the number of applications down. This was due to people self-isolating more and social distancing measures meant that a visit to the solicitor to draw up the paperwork and get it registered was off the cards.
However, as we all finally start to get back to normal, it’s important to revisit this topic, and to examine exactly why you might need an LPA in your 20s.
What is an LPA?
LPA stands for Lasting Power of Attorney and was introduced under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Power of Attorney allows you to grant someone close to you such as a family member or close personal friend the right to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapable of making your own due to illness or a serious accident.
This isn’t a document that can be registered retrospectively. You need to be ‘of sound mind’ and fully capable of making your own decisions to put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney document. It needs to be registered (which can take several weeks or even months to complete), and it needs to be absolutely accurate, so you’ll need to get a legal expert to check it over.
You don’t have to register an LPA, but by having a signed document completed and ‘ready to go’ if the worst happens means that you’ll be taken care of by someone you trust, rather than a court-appointed representative.
Why is it important?
If you have a serious accident or develop a debilitating illness that leaves you unable to make your own decisions about your finances and how your personal care is managed, then an LPA designates those responsibilities to your chosen individual. If, for example, you’re hospitalised, an LPA means that a person you trust can make decisions about your care, and you can be certain that it will reflect your wishes. It also makes things easier for your loved ones, who can make decisions more quickly and with less worry.
They’ll also be able to access your finances so that they can ensure things like bills, mortgage and rent payments are covered. If you’ve granted LPA to a partner, that could take away a lot of financial worry at a time when your care is at the forefront of their mind.
What happens if you don’t have an LPA?
If you are no longer in a position to make your own financial and care decisions and there is no LPA in place, the only option your loved ones have is to apply for a deputyship from the Court of Protection. Not only is this much more expensive than registering an LPA, but it takes a lot longer to put in place too.
Don’t simply assume that your family will automatically be allowed to make decisions on your behalf without an LPA in place. For example, a bank may not allow a family member access to your account if you haven’t designated them as your Attorney. Likewise, while the medical profession will certainly discuss your treatment and care with your family, even your partner or spouse will not have the right to object to a course of treatment, and would only be able to do so if they had been appointed as your Attorney. So if you want to make sure your wishes are adhered to, that LPA has to be in place.
How do you go about making one an LPA?
Technically, you can draw up and submit an LPA for registration without the need to talk to a solicitor. However, such an important (and legally binding) document needs to be absolutely accurate, so talking to a professional is the right thing to do. A solicitor will be able to take you through the finer points of an LPA, what it means, and what rights it gives you and your designated Attorneys. They’ll also make sure that the instructions you’ve included are acceptable, comprehensive, and factually correct, ensuring safeguards are in place to protect you and your assets.
If you’re thinking about getting this crucial piece of paperwork sorted out sooner rather than later, talk to a wills, trust and probate expert today.
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