Powers of Attorney and Advocacy
You may wish to prepare for a time when you can no longer manage the running of your day-to-day affairs or make decisions about your property and finances, or about your health and welfare.
You can make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and can choose one or more people you trust to deal with all or some of your property and financial affairs or health and welfare when, and if, it becomes a problem for you. You must apply for an LPA while you have ‘capacity’ to do so.
People often appoint more than one ‘attorney’ to act for them. This guards against abuse of the wide powers over property and finance that the Power of Attorney gives. It can also be a good idea because people may have different skills relating to property, finance or health and welfare. Attorneys may act ‘jointly’(where they must all sign all transactions) or ‘jointly and severally’ where only one person needs to sign. If you change your mind later about the person or people you have chosen, you can revoke the document.
If you want to make a property and financial affairs LPA and a health and welfare LPA these will form two separate documents. An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.
The property and financial affairs LPA can take effect immediately or when you lose mental capacity to make the decisions about your property and finance and this can be specified. The health and welfare LPA can only be used when you lose mental capacity to make those decisions for yourself.
If you have already made an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) or are acting on behalf of someone under an EPA, it will still be valid under the new legislation unless the person who made it decides to destroy it and replace it with an LPA. An EPA must be registered when the person loses mental capacity to make decisions about their property and finances if it is to be used.
The Mental Capacity Act allows you to make an ‘advance decision to refuse treatment’ if this is important to you. The MCA Code of practice gives details of how to make this advance decision.