When a loved one’s health begins to deteriorate and their mental clarity is impacted, it may become necessary for another person to make decisions on their behalf. This can be temporary, such as during a hospital stay, or as part of a longer-term care plan. Appointing a Power of Attorney is the most legally-sound way to identify the desired person for this role. The registration process must occur while the individual in question still has mental clarity and should consider their needs to ensure the safe designation of rights.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Also known as an LPA, Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows a designated individual to make decisions for another. It comes into effect once the person is no longer able or no longer wants to make decisions on their own behalf. LPAs replaced Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in October 2007, providing more protection for the individual and a wider range of options. They generally cover decisions about financial affairs and health care.
With progressive conditions, including dementia and Parkinson’s, a person’s mental capacity is expected to diminish over time. An LPA provides peace of mind and reassurance for both the individual and their loved ones, with the knowledge that future decisions will be dealt with appropriately.
Different types of lasting power of attorney
Lasting Power of Attorney allows the designated ‘Attorney’ to perform legally binding acts for an individual. There are two different types of LPA – those created for financial decisions and those for health and care decisions.
When mental clarity becomes impacted, Lasting Power of Attorney allows important financial decisions to be made by a trusted and designated individual. They can come into force while the individual still has mental clarity, should they choose to pass over responsibility. Equally, they can be set up to come into force when mental clarity is lost. This form of LPA is designed to cover acts such as:
- The purchase and sale of property
- Paying bills, including mortgages
- Managing investments
The appointed attorney must keep detailed records of all financial movements and ensure their own finances are kept separate. They may also be required to submit regular reports to other designated family members or accountants to ensure everything lines up.
Health and care LPAs
Lasting Power of Attorney can be implemented to cover all health and care decisions. These LPAs can only be brought into force once the individual has lost mental clarity – a process that must follow assessment by their GP or another medical professional. Once in place, they can cover decisions including:
- Daily routine, including dressing, washing and nutrition.
- Medical care provided and future care plans
- Who is included in their social circle and what activities they participate in
It is important to note that legal authority does not automatically go to spouses after the loss of mental clarity. Assigning a Legal Power of Attorney is an important step in the support and preparation for your loved one’s future well-being.
A Lasting Power of Attorney must be registered through the Office of The Public Guardian. It is important to discuss these legal tools with your loved one while they still have the mental clarity to understand the decision they are making.