A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), or a Continuing Power of Attorney in Scotland, is a legal document which grants attorneys the power to make decisions on a person’s behalf, should they lose the capacity to do so themselves (e.g. through age, illness or accident).
There are two types of LPA document: the first grants attorneys the power to make decisions about a person’s financial affairs (including property); the second grants attorneys the power to make decisions about a person’s health and welfare. Creating both types of LPA is a vital step in estate planning. In Scotland there can be a combined Power of Attorney covering both types.
LPAs allow the person who created them to plan and choose:
- Which decisions are to be made on their behalf;
- Who will make those decisions;
- How those decisions are to be made.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 created a Code of Practice for people acting on behalf of others who have lost capacity. This code protects the interests and wellbeing of those who cannot make their own decisions, as well as offering guidance for attorneys appointed to act on their behalf.
If a person loses capacity without having created Lasting Powers of Attorney (or without the older Enduring Power of Attorney which predates them) then an application to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order will have to be made before any decisions can be made on their behalf. It is common for jointly owned assets to be frozen throughout this process.