Powers of Attorney
Making Your LPAs with Estate Planning Made Simple is a easy as 1 2 3
Tell us who you are and what you want to achieve.
We’ll give you free, honest and impartial advice based on your circumstances. We’ll make recommendations showing you the best way to structure each of your LPAs based on your wishes and give you a fixed price for the work agreed. When you’ve confirmed that you want to go ahead, we’ll get to work drafting your LPAs, making sure that they include everything you need.
Check your draft LPAs and confirm that you're happy.
We’ll send your bespoke LPAs, professionally drafted to your exact requirements by one of our STEP Qualified Experts, to you within 48 hours. You can make any amendments if you’ve changed your mind and then confirm that you are happy with your draft. We’ll then send your final bound LPAs and free bonus documents to you by registered post for your signature.
Sign your bound LPAs and then return them to us for checking.
When you receive your bound LPAs, just follow the simple personalised signing instructions and then return them to us for checking. Our legal experts will make sure that they have been signed and witnessed correctly and confirm that they are legally valid. We’ll then handle all of the registration process on your behalf to ensure that they are ready for use when needed.
Fast 48 Hour Turnaround Lowest Prices Guaranteed
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf.
That may be because you are no longer able to make them for yourself because you have lost mental capacity or because you would prefer the help and support of someone that can make them on your behalf.
You can appoint one or more people to act on your behalf and choose whether they must act together or can act independently.
For Financial Decisions, you can also choose whether they can only act when you have lost mental capacity, or whether they can also act on your behalf at any time beforehand.
There could be a number of situations that may arise where you have not lost mental capacity but are unable to act for yourself.
General Power of Attorney
A General or Ordinary Power of Attorney can be granted to one or more people to handle your financial affairs until you die or lose mental capacity. It cannot be used after you have lost capacity.
It is normally set up for to cover a specific time period, where others may need to act on your behalf because you are out of the country, on holiday or working away, for example, or because you know that you will be unavailable for a specific reason such as a spell in hospital.
Although a General Power of Attorney authorises the person that you appoint to make decisions on your behalf, it is often useful when you need someone to sign on your behalf for a decision you have made yourself and communicated to them, in person, in writing or by phone.
We will automatically draft a General Power of Attorney for you FREE OF CHARGE whenever you instruct us to prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney for you.
As a Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used after it has been registered with the Court of Protection, and that process can easily take three months or more, the General Power of Attorney is used as a temporary provision in case of an emergency.
As soon as your Lasting Power of Attorney has been registered, the General Power ceases.
Specific Power of Attorney
A Specific Power of Attorney is similar to a General Power of Attorney, in that it grants authority to others to act on your behalf but with an important difference. It limits the power of your attorney(s) to one or more specific actions.
For example, you may wish to authorise a solicitor to sign on your behalf in relation to the sale of a property or for someone to buy or sell a vehicle on your behalf.
As soon as the specified action has been completed, the Power of Attorney ceases.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
In October 2007, Lasting Powers of Attorney became the formal legal document needed to appoint someone to manage your affairs in case you became ill and lost mental capacity.
There are two types of LPA, one to handle your Financial Affairs, the other to handle your Health and Welfare and both are needed if you want the people you trust, rather than the State, to manage your affairs if you become incapable of managing them for yourself.
An LPA becomes valid as soon as it is signed but must be registered with the Court of Protection before it can be used.
Learn more here…
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
Until it was replaced in October 2007, the Enduring Power of Attorney was the formal legal document needed to appoint someone to act on your behalf to mange your financial affairs if you became mentally incapable of managing them for yourself.
If you have an EPA in place, it is still valid provided that it has been completed properly, and can be used by your attorney(s) without being registered while you have mental capacity but must be registered with the Court if you are or are becoming mentally incapable.
This can provide practical problems, as at the very time you need your attorney(s) to act, they have to apply to the Court for registration before it can be used. That process can take more than three months during which time your finances may be frozen, and you may experience severe financial difficulty.
If you have an existing EPA we will review it for you FREE OF CHARGE and advise you on whether it should be upgraded to the more robust LPA.
A person who has mental capacity is able to make specific decisions for themselves and let others know of those decisions.
To have mental capacity you must be able to remember and understand the decision that you need to make, the reason that it needs to be made and the potential effects of your decision on yourself and others.
Since the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, it is acknowledged that people do not necessarily lose mental capacity like flicking a light switch.
It is true that for some, they may suddenly lose the ability to make decisions for themselves due to an accident or major trauma such as a stroke.
But for many, especially for those suffering from dementia or a similar illness, mental capacity diminishes gradually over time and they can have good and bad days, where their ability to make decisions for themselves varies greatly.
And the ability to make a decision may depend on what you are trying to decide. Some decisions are easier and less important than others. For example, you may be able to decide what you want to eat for lunch but be unable to switch to a different energy provider to move onto a lower tariff.
Needing more time to make a decision, understand your choices, or make your decision known to others doesn’t automatically mean that you have lost mental capacity but you may be glad of the help and support of others to make big decisions that have a major impact on your life.
You may be able to make up your own mind about buying some new clothes but need help from others in choosing a new washing machine or even about moving home if you need to move.
Granting power or attorney to someone you trust does not mean that you have lost capacity, in fact you need to be able to demonstrate that you have capacity in order to make one in the first place.
Rather, just like a Will, it is an important planning tool that should be made well in advance of when it is needed.
Anyone who is 18 and has mental capacity can make a Power of Attorney.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness or a condition that means that your capacity may diminish overtime it is very important that your ability to make your Power of Attorney is carefully assessed and documented by a quaified professional to avoid the risk of a dispute at a later date.
If you cannot demonstrate that you have sufficient capacity to grant Power of Attorney to the people you have chosen, they will have to apply to the Court for what is called a Deputyship Order instead.
A Deputyship Order is expensive and is far more restrictive than a normal Power of Attorney.
There is no guarantee tha the Court will grant the people you would have chosen the authority to act as a Deputy.
There is also a risk that someone you would not have wanted to manage your affairs could apply to act as a Deputy and be granted the authority to act on your behalf.
That could include a family member that you would not have appointed and even the Local Authority may apply so that they can control your finances.
To avoid problems it is essential that you grant Power of Attorney to people you trust well in advance of any problems.
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a formal legal document that grants one or more people that you trust the ability and legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. Importantly, unlike other powers of attorney, an LPA continues in effect even if you become mentally incapable of making decisions for yourself. With one in three people suffering from some form of mental incapacity before they die, having a properly drafted LPA is an important and responsible thing to do.
Without an LPA in place, your family and friends are unable to help you if you become ill and decisions about your finances and healthcare become the responsibility of the State. A special Court called the Court of Protection manages the affairs of those who are mentally incapable of managing them for themselves and have not formally appointed someone they trust to manage them in a registered LPA. You may assume that your spouse, your children or next of kin would automatically have the right to make decisions on your behalf, but the Law specifically prevents them from doing so unless you have purposely appointed them in a correctly drafted and registered LPA.
Although this may seem inconvenient and unnecessary for those who have close relationships with their relatives, the Law must be there to protect those who are most vulnerable and who may be victims of abuse and also protect those who are estranged from the people that are related to them. If you haven’t appointed someone to act as your attorney, the Law must assume that it is because you didn’t trust them or didn’t want them to act for you. It can’t work on the premise that you just didn’t get round to it.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney each serving a very different and important purpose:
For Your Wealth:
The first is the Lasting Power of Attorney for financial decisions also known as a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs.
For Your Health:
The second is the Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care decisions also known as a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare.
Both of these LPAs allow your appointed Attorneys to manage your affairs when you are incapable of managing them for yourself, but there is an important difference between them in respect of when they can take effect.
Both have to be properly signed and witnessed and registered with the Court before they can be used but you can elect for your LPA for financial decisions to take effect immediately after it has been registered, or to only come into force after you have lost mental incapacity. Your LPA for health and care decisions, on the other hand, can only take effect if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
And because none of us know what’s round the corner, it’s essential we not only grant Power of Attorney to those we trust but also make sure that it is as flexible as possible to cover every evenutality that may arise. Of course, it should still have all of the safeguards required to protect you, but at the same time it should not be so restrictive that your Attorneys are in a figurative straight jacket and unable to use their common sense to act in your best interests.
We will guide you through the complex maze of options available to make sure that both of your Lasting Power of Attorneys are designed just the way you want, to provide maximum protection while maintaining the flexibility needed to care for your needs properly.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions
There could be any number of reasons why you might need to have someone act on your behalf to manage your finances. It could be that you suddenly lose the ability to make decisions for yourself because of an accident, a stroke or an illness.
Or it could be that you gradually lose the ability to make decisions due to diminishing capacity. Your incapacity could be temporary or irreversible and permanent. Or as you get older, you may just prefer someone you trust to take care of all the financial details for you because they all seem a bit too much to cope with.
An LPA for Financial Decisions can be set up so that your Attorneys are able to act on your behalf as soon as it is registered, even though they might not actually need to step in to help you for many years. This way you know that if something did happen suddenly, the red tape will not prevent those you trust taking care of you.
You can specify what your Attorneys can and cannot do on your behalf, but as it’s virtually impossible to know what situations might arise years into the future the more freedom that they have to make decisions on your behalf the better. They always have to act in your best interests so placing restrictive limitations on them may backfire if a situation arises that you hadn’t foreseen.
Your Attorneys will normally have the authority to manage your day-to-day finances, pay for your groceries, pay your bills, including your mortgage if you have one; arrange and pay for repairs to your home; they can insure your home and contents if necessary; make benefit claims on your behalf and manage your bank accounts and pensions. They can also sell your home for you if you can no longer manage to live there and buy a new one in it’s place if that is appropriate, or invest the proceeds on your behalf after taking suitably qualified advice.
They are also allowed to make small gifts on your behalf for things like Christmas, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries to people that you would normally have made such gifts to yourself, but they are not allowed to give large sums of money to themselves or others.
There are strict rules about how your Attorneys can behave and what they can do with your money. They must keep it separate from their own funds and keep accurate records detailing eveything that they have spent on your behalf. If they abuse their position, they can be removed by the Court and even sent to prison if they are found guilty of a criminal act.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Care Decisions
Until October 2007, you could only appoint an attorney to manage your financial affairs. With the Mental Capacity Act and the introduction of Lasting Powers of Attorney it became possible to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf in relation to your health and welfare. Unlike the LPA for Financial Decisions, which can be used while you still have mental capacity, the LPA for Health and Care decisions can only be used when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
Your Attorney(s) can make decisions about where you live, your medical treatment, the quality of your care, what you should eat, who you can have contact with, and what types of activities you can join in with. They will also have a right to know what medication you are being given and speak up on your behalf about how your healthcare is managed. Importantly you can also authorise your Attorney to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment if you wish.
As with the circumstances surrounding the use of your LPA for Financial Decisions, it may suddenly become necessary for your Attorneys to act on your behalf because of an accident, a stroke or other serious health condition, or it could be that your mental health steadily deteriorates to a point where you are unable to make decisions about your day to day life. It is at that point that your Attorney(s) will need to step in to help make decisions on your behalf.
They may have to decide whether it is safe for you to remain living at home or whether you should move into care. In either case they will have to work with the Attorney(s) of your LPA for Financial Decisions as many of the decisions that they make will have financial implications. It is for this reason that many people decide to appoint the same people as their attorneys on bother their LPA for Health and Care Decisions and their LPA for Financial Decisions.
You may want to think carefully about the things that you would want your Attorneys to decide on your behalf. For example, you may want to give them some guidance about the circumstances under which you would want to live in residential care rather than live at home; or you may have the option of moving in with one of your children if you cannot manage by yourself and have a preference about who you live with; or who moves in with you if that is an option.
If you have specific diet related requirements, or preferences, such a being vegetarian or vegan, it is important that your Attorneys know these and can ensure that they are respected. This is particularly important if you have religious beliefs that prohibit the eating of certain foods such as shellfish, pork, or beef; or you need your food prepared in a certain way such as kosher or halal. And it is equally important if you have allergies that can cause a reaction, even a fatal reaction, if you eat certain foods.
Another very important area that should be discussed with your Attorneys in advance is that of your medical treatment, particularly life-sustaining treatment and DNR orders. You will of course make these decisions yourself if you are able to but in the event that you are no longer able to decide about your treatment it is essential that the people who you trust know your wishes and have the authority to make decisions on your behalf.
Choosing Your Attorneys
For most people it is relatively easy to choose who to appoint as their attorneys. You may already know who you want to appoint or may still be undecided. Most people will choose to appoint their spouse or partner if they have one, their adult children, or other close relatives. If they don’t have relatives that they want to appoint they may have close friends that they trust to act on their behalf. Or you can appoint a professional attorney to act for you if there is no-one else that you would rather have manage your affairs.
Although you only need to appoint one attorney, it is sensible to appoint two or more people to act on your behalf. For example, it is normal for a husband and wife to appoint each other and one or more of their adult children to act for them. You can appoint attorneys that are living overseas but it is best to have at least one of your attorneys living in this country and preferably more than one.
There is standard provision within both types of LPA to appoint four attorneys and it is best not to appoint too many as that may be a recipe for arguments and disagreements. We’ve all heard the expression ‘too many cooks…’!
You can appoint your attorneys to act ‘jointly‘ – where they must all agree and all sign for every decision – or ‘jointly and severally’ – where one or more of them can be involved in each decision made. Unless there is very good reason not to, we would always recommend that you appoint your attorneys jointly and severally as otherwise there can be some serious practical problems to the day to day operation and decision making process. In fact they may never be able to get anything done on your behalf if they can’t all reach agreement. And it can become a real chore for them if they all have to sign every cheque each time a bill is paid.
What is more and perhaps even more pertinent is that if you appoint your attorneys jointly and one of them dies before you or loses mental capacity themselves the whole LPA fails and cannot be used. If this happens at a time when your own health is failing you may not have the opportunity to make another one. This is another major reason why we normally recommend that you appoint your Attorneys jointly and severally.
You can also appoint ‘Replacement Attorneys’ and this may be appropriate in some circumstances but we will discuss the pros and cons of this with you before we draft your LPA as this can create complications.
Unlike the Executors of your Will, who may not even be aware that they have been appointed in some cases, your Attorneys must sign to accept their appointment before your LPA can be registered with the Court. It’s a good idea to check with them before you sign your LPA as if they refuse to accept their appointment your LPA will have to be redrafted to either remove them or replace them within someone else.
We will discuss all of your options, what is considered to be best practice and the merits and pitfalls of the different ways you can set up your LPA with you so that you can make a clear and informed decision about how your LPAs are structured. We will then design them to your precise requirements so that they appoint the people you trust in exactly the way you want them to be able to act.
Choosing A Certificate Provider
A safety feature built into every Lasting Power of Attorney is the appointment of a Certificate Provider. This is a person who must certify that you have the capacity to make an LPA and that you understand the authority that it gives to your Attorneys. They must also be satisfied that you have made your LPA of your own free will and have not been pressured into making it by one or more of your Attorneys.
You cannot name one of your Attorneys to be your Certificate Provider. They must be independent and fall into one of two categories:
They can either be a Knowledge Based Certificate Provider, which means that they have personally known you for more than two years;
or, a Skills Based Certificate Provider who has the relevant professional knowledge and training to be able to assess that you have sufficient capacity to set up your LPA. A Skills Based Certificate Provider is normally a STEP Qualified Estate Planning Practitioner, a Registered Health Care Professional, a Solicitor, Barrister or Advocate, a Registered Social Worker, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate or another person who can demonstrate that they have the relevant professional skills to determine the capacity of the Donor.
A Skills Based Certificate Provider can charge a fee for their services.
Your certificate provider must not be any of the following people:
• an attorney or replacement attorney named in this LPA or any other LPA or enduring power of attorney for the donor
• a member of the donor’s family or of one of the attorneys’ families, including husbands, wives, civil partners, in-laws and step-relatives
• an unmarried partner, boyfriend or girlfriend of either the donor or one of the attorneys (whether or not they live at the same address)
• the donor’s or an attorney’s business partner
• the donor’s or an attorney’s employee
• an owner, manager, director or employee of a care home where the donor lives
You can ask the person acting as your witness to also act as your Certificate Provider as long as they do not fall into one of the categories above.
We will help you to choose an appropriate Certificate Provider when the time comes to sign your Lasting Power of Attorney.