Thinking about what would happen if you lost your faculties isn’t easy, but it’s vital to consider who you’d want to manage your affairs if you were no longer able to make decisions yourself.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) enables you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you’re no longer able to manage your finances or welfare yourself. It must be arranged while you still have mental capacity, or it won’t be valid. If you don’t have an LPA in place, and become incapacitated, your family or loved ones will have to apply to take charge of your affairs through the Court of Protection, which can be both costly and time-consuming.
There are two main ways to set up a lasting power of attorney (LPA), either by yourself or with the help of a professional.
The DIY approach
You can make an LPA yourself via the Gov.uk website. This has all the relevant forms you’ll need to set up an LPA, along with the information you need to complete them at each step.
Once you’ve finished completing the forms online, you’ll need to print them out and sign them. They’ll also need to be signed by the attorneys you’ve appointed, witnesses and a ‘certificate provider’ who must confirm you’re making the LPA by choice and that you understand what you’re doing. You can’t be a witness if you’re the person appointing an attorney.
After you’ve made an LPA, it needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Provided you haven’t made any mistakes, it should take roughly between eight and 10 weeks to register, and either you, if you’re able to make your own decisions, or your attorney, can apply to do this. Your LPA can either be registered online, or if you’re using a paper form, it can be posted to the Office of the Public Guardian.
It usually costs £82 to register each LPA, so if you’re registering both a property and financial affairs LPA and a health and welfare LPA, the cost will be £164. You might qualify for a reduction if you earn less than £12,000, or an exemption if you’re claiming certain benefits such as Income Support.
Using a solicitor
If your affairs aren’t straightforward, or you don’t want the hassle of filling out the LPA forms yourself, you can use a solicitor or estate planning service to help you set one up.
They will complete the relevant forms on your behalf, and as they will usually be specialists in this area they’re unlikely to make any mistakes which might cause your application to be rejected.
Having expert advice can be useful if you have more complex investments, such as business assets, or overseas property.
It is always sensible to pay for good legal advice to be sure that the process is done properly but fees for setting up an LPA can vary, so if you’re considering enlisting the help of an expert, it’s worth comparing lots of different services to see how much they charge and what exactly you’ll get for your money.
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