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Setting up a Power of Attorney: A step by step guide

View profile for Hannah McGavin
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A Lasting Power of Attorney is an important document giving someone the authority to deal with your affairs, should you ever become unable to do so yourself.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), one that deals with property and financial affairs and one that deals with health and welfare. If you make a property and financial affairs LPA, you can register it for use at any time, should you wish to, so that your attorney can help you even if you still have the capacity to manage yourself. This can be useful if you want assistance, for example, by getting your attorney to go to the bank on your behalf. A health and welfare LPA can only be used once someone has lost the ability to make their own decisions.

Choosing an attorney

You will need to decide whom you would like to act on your behalf, should it ever be necessary. You can choose one or more attorneys and give them consent to act independently or require them to act together. It is generally easier if attorneys are able to act independently. You can also appoint substitute attorneys.

You should choose someone whom you trust implicitly, and ideally someone who is younger than you, otherwise there is a risk that they may not be able to help you when the time comes.

Filling in the forms

It is vital that the LPAs contain all the specific powers that will enable the attorneys to act in your unique circumstances i.e. specific power is needed to enable any investments held in a discretionary management scheme to continue or for decisions to made regarding pensions options.

You will need to complete LPA forms and have them signed by someone who is able to certify that you have the mental capacity to understand what you are signing. You and your attorneys will 

also need to sign and you should list the names of any people whom you wish to be told that you are intending to register an LPA.

Registering the LPA

The LPAs can only be used once they have been registered with the Office of Public Guardian (OPG).

The LPA forms need to be sent to the OPG for registration with them. They will register the forms and send you the original LPAs once they are validated.

Once this has been done, you can store your LPA until it is needed. It is important that they are stored safely.  

It is not essential to register the LPA as soon as it has been signed, however, once registered, it will be ready for use as soon as it is needed. Otherwise, there could be a delay while your attorney waits for the OPG to process the forms, which could take three months or more.

It also means that any errors on the form can be dealt with in advance of the time when the LPA is needed. If errors arise after the person making the LPA has lost capacity, then potentially they may be without an LPA if the errors invalidate the documents.

Registering the LPAs also means that in a medical emergency the attorney has the authority to make decisions that could be vital.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers, contact our Farnham office on 01252 733770 or online.

This information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking full legal advice on specific facts and circumstances.