THE IMPORTANCE OF POWER OF ATTORNEY
When planning the long-term care it is important that you put the right plans in place to protect your family. Power of Attorney is a very important legal documentation that gives someone you trust the authority to make decisions or take actions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. However, there are different types of power of attorney relevant to different circumstances. At Oxford Aunts we have been helping hundreds of families better understand how to plan long-term care. Here we make sense of the different types of Power of Attorney and how they can be used.
A Power of Attorney gives legal power to one or more people you trust – classed as your ‘attorneys’ if you cannot do so for yourself. This may happen if you have temporarily been in hospital or you have become unwell and no longer can make decisions for yourself, for example if you are living with a condition like dementia or following a stroke.
When considering a Power of Attorney you need to think about what decisions may need to be made and whether you wish your attorney to act whilst you still have mental capacity or only if you lose mental capacity. Having mental capacity means you can make and communicate decisions as and when they need to be made. Find out more about mental capacity on the NHS website.
TYPES OF POWER OF ATTORNEY
In the UK there are three different types of PoA:
General power of attorney
This type of attorney gives your chosen attorney the authority to make decisions and take actions about your finances, whilst you still have mental capacity.
Lasting power of attorney
There are two types of lasting power of attorney; the first relates to property and financial affairs and the second to health and welfare. The former enables your attorney to make decisions about your finances either with your permission or if you lose mental capacity. The latter, as you would imagine enables them to do the same relating to your health and care needs.
Enduring power of attorney (EPA)
An EPA is an old version of what has now become lasting power of attorney and relates to property and financial affairs. If you made an EPA before 1st October 2007 (when it changed to a lasting power of attorney) it is still valid, however you can no longer set up an EPA now.
WHO SHOULD I CHOOSE AS MY ATTORNEY?
It is critical that you choose someone you trust. They will be making significant decisions about your finances and health on your behalf – they must always have your best interests at heart. Many people consider a partner or spouse, a friend, another family member, or a professional person, like a solicitor. It might be that you decide to nominate more than one attorney, but you will need to be clear about their role in decision making and whether they all need to agree or not.
PUTTING A LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY IN PLACE
Firstly you need to complete a form available from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) which must be then registered with OPG to achieve validation, which can take around ten weeks.
You must sign the Lasting Power or Attorney with your attorney and an independent witness. The witness must confirm that you have the mental capacity to put a lasting power of attorney in place and you are not under any pressure to do so. The witness can be someone who you know well or a professional such as your GP, a social worker or your solicitor.
If you have decided to set up two lasting power of attorneys, one for finance and property and the other for health and welfare you will need to complete two separate forms. Registering a Lasting Power of Attorney is £82 for each one, although if you are receiving support from your local authority you may pay less.
We are here to help you and your family – call our care advisors today on 01865 791107 to see how we can support your decisions about long-term care.