What is a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney?

There may be several reasons why you need a power of attorney. It could be a temporary solution, for example, if you need to go into hospital for a period of time. Or perhaps you need someone to help you manage your affairs. Potentially it may be needed long term, if the time comes where you lose mental capacity and need someone to make decisions on your behalf.

Whatever the reason is. A power of attorney being in place before the time you need it can ensure that you have someone to help you if and when the time comes. 

A Property and Finance LPA can be an important document to have in place. Hopefully you will never need to use it. If you ever find yourself away from home for a period of time or you lose mental capacity as you age. Then having everything already in place can make the world of difference. 

What do you need for someone to handle your financial affairs on your behalf?

For another person to be able to handle your financial affairs you need to have a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney in place.

This allows you to appoint one or more attorneys to make decisions either with you or on your behalf. You can stipulate when you would like the LPA to come into effect.

For example, you may wish for it to only be used in the event that you lose mental capacity. Alternatively you may choose to have it be used as soon as it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

This can be especially helpful if you are away from home a lot. For example, a Soldier that is deployed would have his properties and finances looked after by his attorney(s) until he returns home. 

What is mental capacity? 

The words mental capacity are used a lot when discussing a power of attorney. To have mental capacity purely means that you are able to make and communicate your decisions. Including the fact that you understand the consequences of any decision you are making.

You may lose mental capacity through an illness, injury or an age related disease.

Unlike with a health and welfare LPA. You do not need to lose mental capacity before your property and finance LPA can be used. 

What does an attorney do? 

Your attorney will be able to make decisions regarding any properties that you own and also handle your finances.

You can stipulate what you want them to do. For example, you may allow them to sell your properties, but you do not want them to have the ability to make or sell your investments.

An attorney must keep a record of all of the accounts. They must be ready to show these at any time to yourself or your Solicitors. They must also keep their own money separate from yours. 

An attorney can 

  • Handle your bank accounts including any savings accounts. 
  • Make or sell investments. 
  • Pay your bills including your mortgage. 
  • Buy or sell your properties. 
  • Organise repairs to your properties.
  • Claim any pensions or benefits on your behalf. 

How many attorneys do I need?

This is completely up to you. Many people prefer to have at least two attorneys. So that if one is unable to fulfil their role you still have one attorney.

You can choose how you want them to work and whether they can make decisions alone (severally) or whether all decisions need to be made jointly.

If you do decide to have more than one attorney then ensure that you choose people who can work well together. Especially if you are asking them to make all decisions jointly.

You can also name replacement attorneys that will be able to step in to replace an attorney if the need arises. 

When choosing your attorney(s) it is important to choose people that you trust. They will be handling your finances so it is vital that you have a good relationship.

Your attorney must be over the age of 18 years old and can be a family member, spouse or close friend. You may also choose a professional such as your solicitor or accountant.

Before naming them it can be helpful to have an open conversation with them about your wishes. Making it clear how you would like decisions to be made and what you would like them to take into account when making any decisions on your behalf. 

Can my attorneys make medical decisions for me? 

If you have a Property and Finance LPA then your attorneys will not be able to make any decisions regarding your health and welfare needs.

You will need a separate Health and Welfare LPA to ensure that those needs are looked after in the event that you cannot make those decisions yourself. You can choose to have the same attorneys for both LPA’s or you can appoint different attorneys for each. 

How long will it take to make my property and finance LPA? 

You do not necessarily need to use a Solicitor to create your lasting power of attorney. Although it can be helpful to have one so that they can ensure that all of the forms are completed correctly.

If you do choose to do this on your own then you can obtain the forms from the Office of the Public Guardian. Once these are completed you will need to submit them to the Office of the Public Guardian.

This process typically takes nine to ten weeks and in that time any mistakes can be picked up and objections raised. Once your application has been accepted you will receive a copy of your LPA for safe keeping. 

When creating your LPA as well as your attorneys you will also need a witness who signs to confirm that they have witnessed your signature.

You will also need a certificate provider who will confirm that you have full mental capacity and understand the decisions you are making. They will also confirm that you have not been pressured into making any of these decisions. 

A Property and Finance LPA can be an important document to have in place. Hopefully you will never need to use it. If you ever find yourself away from home for a period of time or you lose mental capacity as you age. Then having everything already in place can make the world of difference. 

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