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Over the next few days, I will write about Lasting Power of Attorney.  It sounds remarkably boring and dull, but someone, maybe someone close to you, will need an LPA in his or her lifetime.  It is wise to prepare.
A LPA is a document signed by a Donor whilst they still have mental capacity to make decisions for themselves, in which they can appoint Attorneys to act for them in either all or certain aspects of their property or affairs’.
LPA’s are associated with elderly people.  We know that as we grow older, our mental faculties begin to fail and, in the extreme, dementia takes over.  It is worth remembering though that an LPA is not age restricted.
There is compelling evidence that we are living longer and demanding more care and protection as age creeps up on us.  In these circumstances, it is smart to plan for old age, despite a natural reluctance to do so.
What are the circumstances in which a LPA is useful?
If you have property and finances and think that sometime in the future, you might not have the mental capacity to make decisions relating to them for yourself, you should consider preparing an LPA. 
It is wise to look at your family circumstances, especially those of your parents, and consider a scenario where they could not manage their finances.  If the responsibility falls on someone else to manage their affairs, you should consider an LPA sooner rather than later.
What decisions do LPA’s cover?
There are two types;
  1. The Property and Financial Affairs LPA.  This LPA covers managing bank accounts, buying and selling investments, selling property and spending money.  In addition it covers claiming benefits and paying for medical and residential care.
  2. The Health and Welfare LPA. This LPA covers decisions about where you live, consenting to medical treatment including refusing certain types of treatment, deciding on the level of care required, arranging social activities and organising work, training and education when it is necessary
What are the consequences of not having an LPA?
When an individual loses the capacity to make decisions, an application is made to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy to act on the applicant’s behalf.  The applicant becomes a ‘Patient of the Court’. 
What is the difference between applying to the Court and making a LPA?
Applying to the Court is often too late, time consuming, expensive and onerous compared to a LPA.  Costs typically exceed £1,000 to apply to the Court, excluding lawyer’s fees and it could take several months before the application is processed.
In addition, there are annual supervision fees levied by the Court, currently about £800, to monitor the Deputies performance on behalf of the patient of the Court.
In other words, a LPA is much more effective. 
Tomorrow – The parties involved in a LPA