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Lasting Power of Attorney and Mental Capacity

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Lasting Power of Attorney: An overview

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you lose mental capacity to make informed decisions. There is no specific age when you should consider creating an LPA because mental capacity is something that could be lost at any time through accidents or through a medical condition with risk factors.

Statistics show that one person develops dementia every three minutes in the UK, yet relatives without a Lasting Power of Attorney would be unable to walk into a bank to access that person’s money, even if it is for their care. The usual process would be that they would need to apply to the court which is often long-winded and costly. This is something that can be avoided with a well-drafted LPA and the key is to act early.

Who decides if someone has mental capacity?

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) says a person is unable to make a decision if they can’t do one of the following: understand information relevant to a decision; retain that information long enough to make the decision; use or weigh that information, or communicate the decision.

When you make an LPA in England, the certificate provider decides if you’re capable of making that choice. This can be someone you’ve known for two years or someone with relevant professional skills such as a doctor, lawyer or social worker. Mention a Lasting Power of Attorney and many automatically think of a person’s finances. However, there are actually two types to consider. There is an LPA for a person’s finances and property but also another for health and welfare.

Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

This LPA gives an attorney the power to make decisions about things like:

  • your daily routine, for example, washing, dressing, eating
  • medical care
  • moving into a care home
  • life-sustaining treatment

Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

You can use this LPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about money and property for you, for example:

  • managing a bank or building society account
  • paying bills
  • collecting benefits or a pension
  • selling your home

How can we help?

One of our experts can talk you through the options available to you and then help you put together your LPA for both financial and medical/welfare if you wish. Speak to us today and find out more about how we can help.

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