How to safeguard your finances and future with a Lasting Power of Attorney

Lawyer holds pen over legal paperwork at Dutton Gregory, Winchester

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a written document that enables a trusted attorney to make financial, health-related and personal decisions on your behalf. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thinking ahead to a time when you may need assistance when making important decisions?

If you have concerns about your capacity to make these essential choices, or just want to make sure that your wishes are legally enshrined, then a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can provide you with peace of mind and a secure future.

We spoke with Alistair MacFarlane, partner at Dutton Gregory Solicitors based in Hampshire, to discuss the purpose, variations and benefits of LPA contracts.

Q: What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and how do they work?

A: A Lasting Power of Attorney is a written document that delegates authority to one or more individuals, so that they can handle your affairs in the event that you are unable to. There are two types of LPA that cover different aspects of your life – Property and Financial Affairs, as well as Health and Welfare.

Without an LPA, when someone loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves a third party, known as a Deputy, will be appointed to do so by the Court of Protection. This can be a lengthy and expensive process in comparison to drafting an LPA, although both continue to be effective after losing capacity.

Financial advisor helps middle aged couple with paperwork at Dutton Gregory, Hampshire

Experienced solicitors like Dutton Gregory can help to ease any concerns, guide you through the process and provide clarity to any complex legal issues that may arise. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q: What are the major differences between the two types?

A: There are several key distinctions between finance and health-related LPAs, and it’s important to understand the differences. The Property and Affairs LPA incorporates financial choices, which can cover everything from paying utility bills, operating a bank account and even selling a house.

Both documents can be utilised after capacity has been lost – Health and Welfare extends to choices about where you live, how you are cared for and the medications and treatments that you receive.

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Q: How should I choose an attorney?

A: I think that by far the most important quality in your attorneys is trustworthiness – is this a person that you trust to make the most vital decisions about your health and wellbeing? When it comes to finances, think about their abilities in terms of running your affairs and making decisions that chime with your own needs and wishes.

It’s also essential to discuss these topics with your attorneys and solicitors beforehand, to brief them on the current state of your affairs and what you would like in the event that you lose capacity. If you’re thinking of appointing more than one attorney, it’s important that they get along with each other and are able to reach decisions amicably to avoid any delays.

Close up of a woman signing a legal document at Dutton Gregory, Winchester

Signing an LPA can help to bring comfort and peace of mind to yourself and your family. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q: How much does a Lasting Power of Attorney cost?

A: Depending on the specific circumstances, as everyone’s case is unique, you can expect to pay around £450 for an LPA – whether it’s a finance or health LPA doesn’t usually factor into the cost.

For both documents, our solicitors would charge £600 and in the case of a couple who individually request both, meaning four documents in total, it would come to a total of £800. VAT would be an additional cost but any extra clauses would usually be included in the original cost.

Q: Why should someone use a solicitor when getting a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A: There are several major advantages to having a knowledgeable solicitor on-hand whilst sorting out these legal documents. They can guide you through the entire process from start to finish, provide expertise and offer their insight into any complex legal issues that may arise.

Whereas wills have always been regarded as a crucial document, LPAs are quickly catching up thanks to the peace of mind they bring. They can be indispensable for individuals and families, helping to avoid unnecessary arguments and providing clarity when difficulties arise. Contacting a legal firm like Dutton Gregory can be the first step to protecting the future for yourself and your family.

To learn more about LPA documents, or to get in touch with a solicitor, visit duttongregory.co.uk or call 01962 844333.