Property/Financial Affairs and Health/Welfare 

In October 2007 Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) documents were superseded by Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). However, this does not mean that if you hold an EPA that the document is not valid, but the current Government have looked at placing a ‘use by date’ on EPA’s which would mean that if the document has not been registered by this, unknown, date it will be null and void.

A Lasting Powers of Attorney document deals with the circumstances where you lose your mental capacity either temporary or permanently. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of how we can lose our mental capacity – Stroke, Heart Attack, Head Injury, Alzheimer’s and Dementia are the most common.  Attorney/s of your choice will then be legally empowered to make decisions on your behalf. There are two LPA’s available, the Property and Financial Affairs LPA which covers all aspects of your wealth which include money held in any type of account, insurance policies, all property owned including the house and contact with  organisations such as public utilities and any other company. The second LPA is the Health and Welfare document and deals with your welfare interests, which are best described as being on two levels, one serious the other daily routine. The serious issues would be hospital based and involve decisions made regarding medication and consent to any treatment including life sustaining treatment. You must be aware that if you are unable to make decisions regarding your Health or Welfare and do not have an LPA then medical or care home staff will make them on your behalf.  The daily decisions would include (particularly if the person is in a care or nursing home) a person’s medication, diet, what they wear and their daily activities. There is also a further advantage available to Attorneys with the Welfare LPA this is the power to have full access to the donor’s medical records, health assessment reports and many other documents. These documents and records would be vital if Attorneys need to challenge the local Primary Care Trust (NHS) if they are refusing or trying to avoid paying Continuing Care Costs. (Applicable if you are suffering from one or more serious conditions).

It is important for me to stress that regardless of what relationship we are to a person who has lost their mental capacity NO ONE had the legal power to make any decision on their behalf without the appropriate Lasting Power of Attorney. The common financial problem for a spouse or partner of someone who has lost their mental capacity, and is now in a care or nursing home, is when they start the process of selling the family home, either to down size and save money or move closer to the nursing home, only to find that they are unable to sell because the other co-owner is unable to consent to the sale.

LPA’s can be expensive. Solicitor’s routinely charge £600 and up to a £1,000 plus VAT per document. My cost is £160 per document and no VAT.

The costs of losing your mental capacity without an LPA document in place thereby necessitating someone on your behalf making an application to The Office of the Public Guardian for the LPA is quite shocking, but unfortunately factual. You must also realise that you will have lost the opportunity to choose the Attorney/s who will make very important decisions on your behalf. Consider who may make application on your behalf and would they be your first or even second choice. Via this route the LPA will cost at least £2,300 plus VAT (making it £2,900 possibly more) plus annual ongoing costs of about £2,000 annually. To put this into perspective, if a women aged 60 years lost her mental capacity and lived to the average life expectancy of 83 years her Attorneys would have to find about £49,000 and this figure does take into account inflation. The overall costs could exceed £60,000. Various  articles in the NARPO magazine have shown these figures to be accurate and the process of having to deal with The Office of the Public Guardian exasperating and extremely stressful.