When a loved one is no longer able to make important decisions for themselves, families are faced with difficult decisions.
Whether this is a sudden change resulting from an accident or medical emergency, or a long-term deterioration such as the issues faced by those living with a dementia diagnosis, the emotional stress this situation will involve is considerable. These pressures are made all the more difficult if the legal steps which allow you to manage a loved one’s affairs are not in place.
Putting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place to plan for this happening is a sensible step to take. This allows the chosen person or persons (the Attorney) to step in and manage the situation.
A person must be able to understand the effect of making an LPA in order for it to be valid. Confirmation of this is dealt with in the power by a ‘certificate provider’ confirming that this is the case.
You can choose to appoint one or more Attorneys and specify whether they must act together (if more than one) or can act independently of each other. Replacement Attorneys can be named, if the originally appointed people find that they cannot act for you.
Once made, the LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (‘OPG’) before it can be used. The OPG is the public body responsible for protecting people with mental capacity issues in England and Wales.
You can choose to allow your Attorneys to use the LPA straight away, with your permission, and then to continue in the event that you lose mental capacity - or alternatively only when you lose capacity.
It is possible to state either preferences or instructions as to how your Attorneys should act within the LPA, if you wish to.
There are now over 3.1 million LPAs registered with the OPG. This form of preparedness is increasingly popular as awareness grows, and the rate of applications to register LPAs is currently in excess of 3,000 per day.