New research from Direct Line Life Insurance found that only 14 % of people in Britain have set up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
Why? Many people incorrectly believe that their family can make medical decisions for them if they’re unable to make decisions for themselves due to illness, accident or injury. 
The research reveals 41% believe their parents would have the priority for making decisions on their behalf, with 14% believing their children could make decisions for them. 
To make sure that the family members or friends you choose can make these important decisions for you, if you need them to, you need an LPA. 
No LPA? What happens… 
An LPA allows you to appoint one or more people to help you make decisions, or to make decisions on your behalf, if you aren’t able to decide for yourself. However, over a third of people in this country (38%) don’t know that they can do this. As a result, if they lose their mental capacity to make decisions, the Court of Protection (CoP) will have to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf. 
Without an LPA in place, your partner, parents or children might not be able to access your assets or manage your finances and property, or be able to make choices about where or how you are cared for. 
How do I set up an LPA? 
You will need to set up your LPAs while you have your mental capacity. You are known as the ‘donor’. It's not possible to set up Power of Attorney if you have already lost your mental capacity. 
There are two types of Power of Attorney – one for property and financial affairs and another for health and welfare. Both of these can be set up the same way, but two applications need to be made. 
Firstly, you will need to choose one or more attorneys to act on your behalf. You must give details of the attorneys you want to appoint and how you want them to act (jointly or 'jointly and severally'). 
Being able to act severally means each attorney can use the Power of Attorney independently and each can make decisions when needed. This is a helpful if the attorneys you have chosen don’t live nearby. 
If you want your attorneys to act jointly, banks and building societies often ask for one of them to be identified as the ‘lead’. 
You will need have the form(s) completed by a ‘certificate provider’ (this may be a professional who is completing the applications with you, or could be your doctor). They can confirm that you have capacity to understand what it means to set up your LPAs, and that you know each of the attorneys you have chosen. 
You, your attorneys and your witnesses will all need to sign the LPA forms, which will then be sent to the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) with the fees that need to be paid. 
Sometimes it may be required to have 'people who need to be told'. These are people who should know that you are planning to register a Power of Attorney. This could be if you have chosen one of your children and not the others to act as your attorney, or if you have chosen a close trusted friend as other family members live a long way away from you. 
Anyone you mention should be sent a notification form (LP3) and they will have three weeks to raise any concerns with the OPG. However, you don’t have to name anyone in this section. 
Once the OPG is satisfied, it will send a stamped copy of your Power of Attorney back to the professional acting for you, showing that it has been accepted and registered. Without the OPG’s stamp your LPA won’t be valid. 
It’s a good idea to give this to your lead Attorney. 
None of us like to think about a time when we won’t be able to make decisions for ourselves but setting up LPAs will give you peace of mind that those closest to you will be able to make decisions on your behalf. 
Please get in touch if you would like my help to set up your LPAs. 
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