If you have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) you may be wondering if you need to replace this with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
Lasting Powers of Attorney were introduced in October 2007 as a replacement for Enduring Powers of Attorney. However, if you have an EPA, this can still be used if necessary. LPAs are more flexible and can provide more protection than an EPA. We take a look at the differences and what to consider if you have an EPA and are wondering if you need to make an LPA in its place.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An EPA is a legal document giving authority to a named attorney to deal with your financial and property affairs, should you ever become unable to manage them yourself.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA is similar, but you can make two different types of LPA:
- A property and financial affairs LPA; and
- A health and welfare LPA
Ideally, everyone should have LPAs in place in case they lose the ability to make decisions.
Differences between an EPA and an LPA
If you have an EPA, this can only be used in respect of property and financial affairs. If you choose an LPA, you can make one or both types, so that you can be helped with health and care decisions as well.
If you wish, a property and financial affairs LPA can be used by your attorney while you still have the ability to make your own decisions. For example, you may need someone to deal with a financial transaction while you are overseas or it might be easier for someone else to go to the bank on your behalf. An EPA can only be used if you lose mental capacity.
An LPA is usually registered with the Office of the Public Guardian straightaway, while an EPA is kept until it is needed, ie. when the donor starts to lose the ability to manage their own affairs.
Under an EPA, one attorney can act on your behalf or, if you appoint more than one attorney, they must all act jointly. This means that they will all need to be involved in every decision and all sign documents.
If you appoint more than one attorney under an LPA, you can opt to allow each of them to act individually. If you wish, you can specify particular decisions where you want them to act together, for example, selling your home.
An LPA allows you to appoint replacement attorneys, in case the individual chosen is unable to act. Under an EPA, if an attorney cannot act, the EPA will be invalid.
Should I replace my EPA with an LPA?
Because an LPA is more flexible and is also available for health and welfare decisions, it is usually beneficial to replace an EPA. You can only make an LPA while you still have the mental capacity to understand the implications, so it is always recommended to put one in place as soon as you can. You then have the peace of mind of knowing that it is available, should it ever be needed.
Why make an LPA?
If you were to lose the ability to manage your own affairs, your loved ones would not be able to step in unless you have signed an LPA or EPA. This means that bills could not be paid on your behalf or other decisions made for you.
Your family would need to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order giving them the authority to deal with your affairs. This is a far more complex process than putting an LPA in place. It is also more expensive and involves more ongoing reporting and monitoring.
The Court of Protection generally takes several months to process applications. In the meantime, your family would not be able to sign documents for you or arrange to pay for care that you might need.
It is strongly recommended that everyone have LPAs in place to ensure that they will have assistance and representation, should this ever be necessary.