DIY Lasting Power of Attorney fees: Just the facts

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There are certain measures that take very little of our time but can save us a lot of hardship and frustration later on. Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is one such measure.

Making an LPA is a way of ensuring that you retain some control over future uncertainties and, by making arrangements now, allows you to have the peace of mind of knowing that if ever you can’t make decisions for yourself in the future you will have chosen someone you trust to make them for you. 

The process is much easier now than it used to be in the past, thanks to the efforts of the government. There is a fair chance that you may find enough guidance on this matter from charitable organisations such as Citizens Advice, in order to do it yourself.

Why you should set up a Lasting Power of Attorney?

An LPA is a legal document that allows someone to appoint one or more people – known as ‘attorneys’ – to help them make decisions, or entirely make decisions, on their behalf if they cannot or are not willing to make them for themself. 

In the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney you will not have the ultimate say over who has control of your health and financial affairs in the future, as the court will choose someone for you in these circumstances.

It also risks your loved ones being subjected to an expensive and lengthy process, applying to the Court of Protection to become a ‘deputy’, in the event that you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions. 

A better alternative is to appoint a trusted relative or friend as your attorney before you lose capacity to do so yourself, by putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

This legal document gives you the flexibility of appointing one or more individuals to act as your representative and lay down the framework within which you would like them to work. 

Many people put off making these kind of decisions, either seeing them as something they can address at sometime in the future or hoping that they will never need to. However, none of us know what is around the next corner and it’s important to remember that you can only create a Lasting Power of Attorney as long as you have mental capacity to do so. After that time, the decision is in the hands of the court. 

How much does a Lasting Power of Attorney cost?

The cost of making a Lasting Power of Attorney depends on whether you hire a solicitor or try to do it yourself.

If you opt for the services of a solicitor, you will need to pay legal fees in addition to the registration fee, which is £82 per LPA.

There is also an option for you to set up a Power of Attorney on your own.

Should you get help or DIY?

Before you can proceed to setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney, it is important for you to understand what the forms mean.

There is trust involved in this matter which makes it a sensitive topic for most families. Unfortunately, instances of dispute over these matters are not unheard of.

You should make sure that you have discussed this matter in depth with your family and friends and made your wishes known.

Another factor that is important here is how much you are willing to spend.

Step 1: Deciding whether you should use a solicitor

The very first decision that you need to make is whether or not you would like to use the services of a solicitor. If you are financially and legally literate, you can save yourself around £500 by deciding to do it yourself.

The process is much easier now than it used to be in the past, thanks to the efforts of the government. There is a fair chance that you may find enough guidance on this matter from charitable organisations such as Citizens Advice, in order to do it yourself.

If your estate is complicated or there are disagreement within your family, you should consider getting the assistance of a solicitor to help you with the process.

Step 2: Do it Yourself by making an online application

If you have decided to go down the DIY route, you can follow the instructions provided on the government website. Once you have filled the forms on the internet, you must print the forms and sign them. It is also possible to download the forms, fill them in and then take the printouts.

Signatures of the person who is making the Power of Attorney and their nominated representatives are mandatory. If you encounter any difficulty at the time of filling in the forms, you can get in touch with the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300. 

As soon as the Power of Attorney is registered it can be put to use.

There is also a provision for you to allow your attorney to make decisions only when you have lost the mental capacity to make them yourself (as opposed to before that time, with your permission).

To prove that you have completely understood what the Power of Attorney means, a ‘certificate provider’ needs to sign the form.

Who can do this?

If you are creating an LPA and have known a person for at least two years, this person can therefore act as a certificate provider.

Alternatively it can be a person who possesses the knowledge or professional skills to do so such as a social worker, solicitor or a doctor.

As a rule, family members are not legally authorised to be certificate providers. 

The following is the list of family members who are not permitted to be certificate providers:

  • Parents, grandparents (including step-parents)
  • Aunts, uncles
  • Brothers, sisters (including half sisters and half brothers)
  • Nieces, nephews
  • Spouses, civil partners or partners
  • Someone related by marriage (in-laws)
  • Children, grandchildren

Step 3: Register the LPA

Once the above formalities have been completed, you can proceed to the next step of registering it by posting the application to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). More information on registration steps can be found on Gov.uk

In England and Wales, the registration of a Power of Attorney will cost you £82, which is a compulsory fee that must be paid. In Scotland, the fee is £77, where as in Northern Ireland it is £127.

The cost of registering a single LPA is £82 which means that if you wish to register a Property and Finance LPA as well as a Health and Welfare LPA, the total cost would be £164. 

If you belong to a low income group and your annual earnings are below £12000, you can pay a reduced fee of £41 by providing evidence of your income. You may even be exempted from paying the fees altogether if you are on certain benefits. 

It is also within the powers of OPG to waive fees if you’re experiencing financial hardship. You can call the OPG helpline on 0300 456 0300 and request the necessary forms if you believe that the fees would cause you real financial hardship.

The LPA must be registered before the donor loses capacity. It can also be registered after the donor has lost capacity, provided the forms were signed while they were still well. 

A benefit of registering early is that you have sufficient time in hand to correct errors. This ensures that they are ready to use, should a situation arise wherein they are urgently needed.

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