Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a method by which an individual can give legal authority to someone they trust and nominate to make decisions on their behalf if they lack mental capacity in the future (e.g. develop dementia), or no longer wish to make decisions despite having mental capacity in the present time (e.g. the individual becomes anxious about making major health decisions or dealing with finances).

An LPA can be made to cover either of 2 main areas affecting an individual:

  • Health and Personal Welfare;
  • Property and Financial Matters.

If the individual wishes for both areas to be covered then a separate LPA application must be made for each.

The individual who will be the subject of an LPA must have mental capacity at the time of making the application, and safeguards are built into the application to ensure they are not put under pressure to make it against their free will. The application must then be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) to be officially registered before it can be used.

There is a fee for registering an LPA with the OPG (£110 as of August 2015), and adults with low incomes or on benefits can qualify for reduced fees or even having the whole fee waived.

The forms for making an LPA application are available to fill in online from the OPG but many people prefer to use a solicitor or independent agency to complete it on their behalf, which again may incur a charge.

Once an LPA has been registered, it can be used to show that the individual nominated to have authority (known as the attorney) can make decisions on behalf of the subject of the LPA (known as the donor). The LPA can then be shown to the donor’s bank, building society, GP or hospital specialist, and the attorney is then able to legally make decisions on behalf of the donor.

An LPA, properly drawn up and used, can be a very effective way to support self-care in individuals with frailty who otherwise may feel increasingly unable to safely manage their affairs whilst trying to live as independently as possible.

Other powers of attorney (Ordinary power of attorney and enduring power of attorney) also exist but are generally less commonly used and more restricted in what they allow the attorney to do. Enduring power of attorney can no longer be applied for but those made or registered before 1st October 2007 are still valid.

Useful links:

Make, register or end a lasting power of attorney
Age UK guide to Power of Attorney
Alzheimers Society Lasting Power of Attorney guidance