What is an LPA?
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document which gives the person(s) of your choice the power to deal with your affairs. These trusted people will become your legally appointed attorney(s) and will be able to use these documents to act on your behalf whenever necessary.
LPAs are important in the event that you may not be able to express how you want your financial affairs and/or health and welfare to be taken care of. An LPA allows you to choose a person(s) to make these decisions on your behalf and in your best interests.
The importance of an LPA
Contrary to popular belief, married or co-habiting couples are not automatically able to legally deal with each other’s affairs. Taking out an LPA and appointing your partner as an attorney ensures they have the authority to act on your behalf should you require it.
Legally, being married or co-habiting doesn’t afford you the right to:
- Access any bank accounts
- Speak to pension providers or credit card companies
- Query bills with utility companies
- Make a decision about healthcare
- Without having a valid LPA in place naming your partner as your nominated attorney, they may find themselves powerless to help you
In England and Wales, there are two types of LPA which deal with entirely different aspects of your life; Property and Financial Affairs, and Health and Welfare. You can choose to have both or just one on its own.
- A Property and Financial Affairs LPA deals with your money and property and can be used while you still have full mental capacity
- A Health and Welfare LPA deals with your wellbeing/care issues and can only be used once you are unable to make decisions yourself, not before.
Giving a trusted person power of attorney over your health and welfare does not mean they will automatically gain control over your financial affairs and vice versa.
Things to consider
These pages give a general overview of the issues surrounding estate planning and are based on our understanding of the current law and tax regulation in England and Wales, which may be subject to change.