A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) – or in Scotland, Continuing Power of Attorney – is an important legal document giving someone (an ‘attorney’) permission to manage your money if you can’t or don’t want to. There are two types of LPA – one for healthcare decisions and one for financial decisions. This page focuses on financial LPAs.
An LPA replaced an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in 2007, but EPAs already in existence at that time can still be used. EPAs continue to be used in Ireland. Creating the document doesn’t mean your attorney immediately takes control of your finances, just that they can in the future. You have to be clear on the LPA about when you want your attorney to take control – this could be when you lose capacity or even before.
If you have an accident or develop an illness – such as dementia – and don’t have an LPA, it’s difficult for those around you to deal with your finances. If you choose someone to manage them for you in case such an event occurs, you’ll still have a degree of control over your assets since you’ve chosen someone yourself that has your best interests at heart.
To create an LPA, you choose your attorney(s) and fill out the forms from the Government website. Then you have to register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and await validation which takes 8-10 weeks. In Scotland, your Continuing Power of Attorney must be registered with the Scottish OPG and in Ireland, your EPA must be registered with the Office of Care and Protection.
It’s important to get certified copies of the original form so that your attorney can use it for proof when needed.
When setting up an LPA, we would suggest that you seek advice from a solicitor. They will be able to help you with the application and highlight any potential issues that may arise as a result of the powers or restrictions you are giving to your attorneys.
You can change or cancel your LPA, even after it has been registered. You need to write a partial deed of revocation – a statement – and send it to the OPG to do so.
If you lose mental capacity and don’t have an LPA, someone will have to apply to the Court of Protection to become your ‘deputy’. The Court will assess the situation and make sure the applicant is a suitable appointee.
The deputy will then make financial decisions on your behalf, as an LPA appointed by you would. If no one can speak for you, an independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) will be chosen by NHS workers or persons in your local council to protect your rights.
The Court of Protection will ensure to the best of its ability that your deputy or IMCA will make decisions that are in your best interest, but it’s worth bearing in mind that this person might not necessarily be someone you’d have chosen yourself and this process can take some time.
Lasting Power of Attorney and Wills are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.