A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime. The people you appoint to manage your affairs are called the ‘attorneys’.
An LPA is a separate legal document to your Will, although many people put them in place at the same time as getting their Will written, as part of wanting to plan for the future.
During your lifetime
Once you have an LPA in place, you can have peace of mind that there is someone you trust to look after your affairs if you become unable to do so yourself during your lifetime. This may occur, for example, because of an illness, old age or an accident.
Having an LPA in place can allow your attorney to have authority to deal with your finances and property, as well as make decisions about your health and welfare. Your LPA can include binding instructions together with general preferences for your attorney to consider. Your LPA should reflect your particular wishes so you know that the things that matter most would be taken care of.
Required legal capacity
You can only put an LPA in place whilst you are capable of understanding the nature and effect of the document (for example, you have the required legal capacity). After this point, you cannot enter into an LPA, and no one can do so on your behalf.
Many people don’t know that their next of kin have no automatic legal right to manage their spouse’s affairs without an LPA in place, so having to make decisions on their behalf can become prolonged and significantly more expensive.