What is a lasting power of attorney?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is an important legal document that lets you give one or more individuals (known as attorneys) the power to help you make decisions or, if you are unable to make your own decisions, to act on your behalf.

Choosing the right type of lasting power of attorney

There are two different types of LPA: a property and affairs LPA covers decisions relating to things such as investing money, paying the bills and arranging property repairs, while a health and welfare LPA covers decisions relating to things such as the food you eat, the medical treatment you receive and the social activities you partake in. You can set up both types of LPA, or just one. You can also place conditions and restrictions on your LPA. For example, you can prevent your attorney from being able to make decisions relating to particular assets when making a property and affairs LPA. 

Choosing an attorney

As your attorney will have a great deal of power and responsibility, it is important that you name someone you trust when creating your LPA. You may choose a relative, a close friend or a professional, such as an accountant or solicitor. 

You can choose to have more than one attorney, but you must state whether you wish for them to make decisions jointly, which means that they must always act together; jointly and severally, which means that they can act together but can also act separately; or jointly in respect of some matters and severally in respect of others, which means that they must act together when making certain decisions and independently when making other decisions. If you choose to set up both types of LPA, you can choose to have the same attorneys for both your LPAs, or you can have different attorneys for different LPAs.

Setting up a lasting power of attorney

Whether you wish to set up a property and affairs LPA, a personal welfare LPA, or both, you will need to complete an LPA form. There are separate forms for the two different types of LPA.

Once you have filled out your form, you must sign it in the presence of a witness, and your attorney(s) must sign to confirm that they understand their duties and agree to act on your behalf if required. A professional, such as a doctor or solicitor, or an independent third party who has known you for at least two years, must also sign to state that you understand the consequence of setting up an LPA.

You must send your form, along with a registration fee, to the Office of the Public Guardian. The registration fee applies to each LPA, so if you are registering both LPAs, you will have to pay twice. If you cannot afford to pay the free, you may get a reduction or exemption.

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