March is the month of Mothering Sunday. Now I’m not suggesting that you pick that day to talk to her about sorting out a Lasting Power of Attorney instead of giving her a treat. But a month in which there’s a focus on mothers is a good one to give serious consideration to lasting powers of attorney and your mum. At the least. But first, in case it’s not clear, I’ll explain what a power of attorney is.
WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY?
An LPA is a legal document that gives your mum the facility to appoint people (her attorneys) to act on her behalf when she no can’t manage her own affairs on her own anymore. This might be for physical or mental reasons.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POWERS OF ATTORNEY I SHOULD TELL MY MUM ABOUT?
Yes, there are. There are two types of LPA you should know about.
1. An LPA for your mum’s property and financial affairs.
2. An LPA for your mum’s health and welfare.
These are the two main types of LPAs and you can find out more about each type here.
REASONS WHY YOUR MUM NEEDS A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY
There are two good reasons why your mum should sort out her LPA. Let’s take a look at them below.
1. In brief, with a financial LPA, your mum’s attorneys can buy and sell her property and have access to her bank accounts so they can withdraw money and pay bills. So, if your mum wants you to look after her property and money affairs in the event of her incapacitation, she should get an LPA sorted out while she is able.
2. To give you the power to look after all things relating to her health and welfare should she suffer any sort of incapacitation.
HOW SHOULD MY MUM CHOOSE HER ATTORNEYS AND HOW MANY CAN SHE HAVE?
Your mum’s attorneys must be over 18 years old and be people that she has absolute trust in. After all, they’ll have to make important decisions for her about her health and finances.
Her attorneys will have access to her money and the right to make important medical decisions on her behalf. So, she needs to choose people who will be responsible and have the time to help her too.
If your mum wants you to be one of her attorneys, you should suggest she have a second one, or a replacement in place. Then if, for some reason you’re not able to help, the other attorney can step into the breach. I advise you to help your mum select someone that you can get on with. Otherwise it will be difficult to reach decisions if no-one can agree on an action plan.
A word of caution: your mum shouldn’t select more than four attorneys. Unless there’s some specific reason for doing this it’s best avoided for sound practical reasons.
HOW CAN MY MUM MAKE A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY?
There are two ways your mum can go about getting an LPA set up.
1. She can seek professional advice and have the LPA completed and registered. You must register any LPA before you can use it.
2. She, or you if you’re helping her to sort it out, can complete an LPA online by visiting the Government website here. Or, she can download the forms here and complete them herself.
Of course, if your mum prefers, she can contact me to enlist my help.
HOW LONG DOES IT ALL TAKE?
As a rule, I can complete the forms within a couple of days if I’ve got all the information to hand. You have to get the LPA signed by the person making them (the Donor) – that’ll be your mum. Then also all the attorneys and a Certificate Provider. That’s someone who signs to say that you and your mum understand what’s happening and that no-one has forced her into making an LPA.
The bit that takes time is the registration process. The law requires the registration of all LPAs before use. Registration takes about two-three months. It’s always best to register the LPAs at once. Then, when your mum needs her attorney/s to use it, they can.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR MUM’S ATTORNEY DIES OR LOSES CAPACITY THEMSELVES?
If your mum has appointed more than one attorney ‘jointly and severally’ and one of them dies or loses capacity, the others can carry on acting on her behalf.
CAN MY MUM CHANGE HER MIND ABOUT WHO SHE HAS AS HER ATTORNEYS?
Yes. But it’s not simple to do. She would have to revoke or cancel her original LPA and then make a whole new one. This is expensive and time consuming. So, it’s best to make an LPA with a view to it standing the test of time.
LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY AND YOUR MUM – HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
If she completes the forms herself, either online or using the paper forms, it will not cost anything to do.
There is a registration fee – currently £82 per LPA. Although there are fee reductions and exemptions available for certain people.
If your mum uses professional help their fees will vary. She can see how much I charge here for drafting LPAs.