You can choose one or more people to make decisions about money or property for you and give them the legal power to act for you with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for property and financial affairs. It can be used immediately or when you choose at some time in the future.
If you become too unwell to manage, your financial affairs might get in a muddle resulting in loss of benefits, unpaid bills, and debt. With an LPA for property and financial affairs this can be avoided. It can be used at any time so you can act alongside your attorney(s) and retain control over some areas while asking them to deal with areas you prefer to delegate. Alternatively, it can be activated at a future time (so long as it has been prepared).
An LPA can only be created whilst you have mental capacity and cannot be used until it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This process can take time, so you may wish to register the LPA as soon as you have completed it.
You can create an LPA yourself using forms and guidance notes found on the government website or by using a solicitor. You may feel reassured if it has been undertaken by a solicitor and less of a worry.
How does the process work?
- Decide who you would like to ask to be your attorney(s)
- If having more than one attorney, decide if you want them to act ‘jointly’ (together) or ‘severally’ (alone). If acting ‘severally’, each attorney can make a decision and act by themselves (this is a flexible arrangement but can leave individuals with great responsibility and power). If ‘jointly’, each attorney must agree to every decision and they can only act together (this may be cumbersome but makes every decision transparent and every attorney takes a share of responsibility).
- Ask the attorney(s) if they would be willing to act
- Create the LPA and have it certified
- Register it with the Office of the Public Guardian so you know that it is valid.
- Make sure that those people such as banks and your accountant know that you have an attorney and who he or she is. They may require sight of the certificate.