What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you (the donor) to appoint up to four people to act as your attorneys to either help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.
- There are two types of LPA:
- Property and Financial– allows your attorney to manage your finances such as paying bills and making investment decisions.
- Health and Welfare – allows your attorney to manage health and welfare decisions should you lose capacity to do so. This can include, medical care, moving into a nursing home or even consenting or refusing to life sustaining treatment.
The important point to note is that your attorneys will only act on your behalf if you want them to or if you lose capacity and you need them.
Following the recent article by Martin Lewis in the MoneySavingExpert on the benefits and importance of having LPAs in place should you be deemed to lack capacity, highlights a common misconception is that you should wait until you are elderly or ill to prepare powers of attorney. In fact, the opposite is true, these documents must be put into place when you have capacity, and we typically recommend them to everyone over the age of 18. Since this article was published, we have seen a large increase in the number of clients requesting LPAs.
Clients with assets in different countries
Whilst we strongly recommend having LPAs in place there is a warning for those who have overseas assets.
This warning is aimed at persons who have assets overseas in countries which are not subject to English law.
The Hague Convention is a convention that allows documents to be enforced between two member nations. The UK is a signatory to the Convention but it has not ratified the Convention, meaning it has no legal effect in England and Wales. This means that the country you are trying to use your LPA in, even if it is a member of the Convention, has the power to determine whether to accept your English LPA or not.
There are steps you can take to have your English LPA made enforceable in foreign nations. A possibility is that you can get your LPA ‘legalised’ by the Legalisation Office and obtain an apostille (stamped official certificate) before you present this to the respective embassy of the country you are trying to obtain validity and enforceability of your English LPA in, for the document to be certified. This process is referred to as a notary public.
This process will incur costs and does not guarantee that your LPA will be accepted in the nation it is presented in. Additionally, what is accepted by one country is not guaranteed to be accepted in another.
Gardner Leader assist clients with preparing and registering LPAs for both their health and welfare as well as financial affairs. We help our clients set up LPAs which reflect their wishes and instructions should their attorneys be called upon.
For clients who have assets abroad there are additional steps that we recommend should be carefully considered. Gardner Leader can help ensure that your attorneys are able to manage your assets abroad on your behalf should you become unable to do so. Find out more information about how you can set up your lasting power of attorney here.