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How we created our DIY Lasting Power of Attorney

This is our experience of using forms available online from the UK government to set up our Lasting Powers of Attorney – and why we’ve done it now.

Why set up LPAs?

We’ve seen a number of families left in limbo when their loved ones became unable to manage their own finances or make decisions about their healthcare. When the loved one already has a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, that challenge becomes much easier, because the people nominated as attorneys can easily take over management. If they don’t, everyone is left in limbo while they try to sort out agreements with institutions, and wait a long time for an application to formally become attorneys to be answered.

It’s often thought that you have to wait until you’re already losing the capacity to make decisions to set up an LPA, but that’s not true. You can set them up at any time, but not use them until you need to.

That’s why OH and I decided to organise our LPAs in good time. We chose to use the do-it-yourself forms available from the UK government’s website. The power of attorney that you can set up here works in England and Wales. There are other systems in place elsewhere.

Terminology

The subject of the LPA is called the ‘donor’. The people that the donor is nominating to look after their affairs if needed are ‘attorneys’.

It’s not difficult if your circumstances are straightforward and you can trust family or friends with the task of being attorneys. For a simple guide, see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/make-a-lasting-power-of-attorney/lp12-make-and-register-your-lasting-power-of-attorney-a-guide-web-version

Which LPA to set up?

There are two possible LPAs. Most people are aware of the Money, Finances and Property LPA, but there is also a Health and Care LPA.

It’s tempting not to bother with the Health and Care LPA as it doesn’t seem quite as important. There’s a belief that being ‘next of kin’ will open the doors to conversations with healthcare providers, but that’s not necessarily the case. How hospitals and GPs will deal with family requests for information on an informal basis seems to vary, and you won’t automatically find yourself as part of the decision-making process if your parent is unwell. At the same time, I’ve heard tell of children who have been very much the carer for their parents finding that a sibling has leaped into the breach in a crisis and told the hospital that they are next of kin – with the result that the caregiver has been frozen out of the conversations.

So Health and Care is well worth setting up at the same time, even if that does mean more expenditure. Setting up both gives clearer formal guidelines for everyone to work with you in the best interests of your relative.

How does it work for the donor?

You can find the appropriate forms online and start filling them in with your details. You will need to download them and print them off so that donors, attorneys and witnesses have a chance to sign them. That will mean submitting the completed forms by post. You can also request paper-based forms, although we were warned these might take longer to process.

You can only create one LPA at a time on the website, but can use the same personal information for the Health and Care LPA if you’ve already set up the Money, Finance and Property LPA (and vice versa).

With this form you do get the opportunity to give other names you use on accounts. This was handy for me as I have used both my full first name and my day-to-day name on various accounts.

Who else is involved?

As the donor, you will need to name attorneys. You can set the LPAs up so that attorneys can have powers straight away, or when they are needed should you as the donor become deemed not to have mental capacity to make your own decisions. Donors need to be able to trust their attorneys, and it’s a good idea to choose attorneys you know can work well together.

There are different ways that attorneys can work:  jointly and severally or independently. In our case we both named each other and our two children as attorneys. Our plan is that the other partner takes the lead, and that the children will only swing into action if both parents are incapacitated for some reason.

You need a certificate provider who will certify that the LPA is not being set up under duress. The certificate provider needs to have known you for at least two years, and there are a few other provisos.

You will also need various signature witnesses.

Cost

You do have to pay for each LPA, and we did get a bit confused in this process. When we set up our LPAs, the full price was £82. Reductions were available if we had been in receipt of various benefits or had an income of less than £12,000. In our case one of us was indeed earning less than £12,000. If you’re claiming a reduced fee you will need to provide suffiicinet evidence, which we apparently didn’t do on the first attempt.

You can pay by credit card (or cheque).

Signing the forms

We got together with our children, and their spouses who were to witness the signatures. As we had four LPAs to process, this took a little time. One challenge was that everyone has to write use their full names, which one of our witnesses didn’t do, so we had to print out the pages and start again.

Once all the forms were signed and witnessed, we sent them by track and trace to the Office of the Public Guardian, but giving our details, so all the update emails/texts came to us. The forms took two days to arrive at the OPG.

One of the forms was returned to us a few days later because the evidence of earnings – required because we claimed a discount – wasn’t considered to be sufficient. We think this is because we included pension payments in the detail. The other, which was more straightforward showing income and earnings, passed without comment.

Waiting

Processing did take a while, but were able to track progress online.

I didn’t get email updates, but had to go to the website – and it’s worth taking a note of the address of your account so you can get back there. https://www.lastingpowerofattorney.service.gov.uk/. When I logged in to see what was happening, I got the following message:

We’re checking the LPA to make sure it’s been made correctly. Once we’ve checked it, we’ll write to the donor, attorneys and correspondent to let them know what happens next.

If there is something that must be corrected before the LPA can be registered, we’ll contact [my name].

The law says there must be a 4 week wait between the date OPG sent the ‘Notice of application’ letter to the donor and attorneys and the date the LPA is registered.

The nominated attorneys did indeed get letters after several weeks, although the one form that we had to re-submit was two weeks slower throughout the process.

What next?

The LPAs need to be activated to be used. You can either go online to activate the account, or show a paper copy. We decided to activate our LPAs immediately, rather than wait until they’re needed. The activation code provided only lasts a year, so if you leave it longer than that, you’ll need to request a new code.

As I’ve used the online service to create my own LPA as a donor, the site has a record of me. But I had to create another account to register myself as OH’s attorney. It’s important to use the link in the email that you’re sent – otherwise you could end up going round in a circle as I did.

It was all fairly straightforward thereonin, and once I’d activated one LPA I was invited to activate a second. I even managed to type all codes in correctly first time, though the system was very forgiving about hyphens.

As an attorney, I now have both of my OH’s LPAs in my account.

With this account an attorney can:

  • give organisations access to an online summary of an LPA by making a secure access code
  • keep track of the organisations that have online access to an LPA
  • view an LPA summary
  • ask for an activation key if they have not been given one

9 months on ….

I haven’t used my account on gov.uk for setting up LPAs for nine months, so it’s going to be deleted. This won’t affect the documents I have already created.

It’s taken me some time to get round to finishing this case study, and even longer to initiate setting up the LPAs in the first place, but I do encourage you to look at the process while you are in good health. It’s relatively stressless then.

Next on the list is updating our wills – our current wills name guardians for children who are both now in their 30s – and look at Advance Decisions and/or Advance Decisions for our health, and even thoughts on our funerals. I work on the basis that the earlier we do this, the less we need to worry about.

Worth a read

Why are so many LPA applications rejected?

 

Image by stefamerpik on Freepik

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Hazel
Hazel
10 months ago

So how long did it take overall 🤔

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