Alzheimer’s care – lasting power of attorney

Make sure you can look after your loved one’s wishes with this cost-effective legal instrument.

With a dementia diagnosis comes the understanding that your loved one’s condition is going to decline. This means it’s likely the point will come where they lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

What is lasting power of attorney?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. It puts a family member in charge of personal welfare. This helps you make the decision that’s best for your family, with the advice of social services.

It means your loved one can enjoy the reassurance of having someone they trust to carry out their wishes. Even when they’re no longer capable of making the decision themselves.

When your loved one’s mental capacity is worsening you want to get all the support they need in place. Without electing a lasting power of attorney, it may be more costly, difficult and time-consuming

And, importantly, the very process of putting a lasting power of attorney in place makes the diagnosis more real. It allows you to really start thinking further down the road at the big choices that lay ahead, such as care options.

When arranging lasting power of attorney, it’s important to note that it differs from the ordinary power of attorney. This is more suited to those who have a physical illness. There are two different types of LPA, which can be applied for at different times, which we cover below.

As it’s a very important legal document, before arranging an LPA, you should get expert advice from a range of sources. Try your social worker, occupational therapist, or a specialist charity. The Alzheimer’s Society and Citizen’s Advice can both help you make an informed decision.

Visit the government website to download and print your lasting power of attorney forms.

The different types of power of attorney

There are two variants of lasting power of attorney. You may want to put one, or both in place, depending on your loved one’s prognosis.

Finances and property lasting power of attorney

If you expect your loved one to be unable to look after their financial affairs, this is the right LPA for you. It means you can arrange their finances in a way that’s best for them.

The LPA can cover the following, but can also be restricted depending on how it’s drafted:

– Managing property portfolio — whether to buy or sell

– Bank and building society accounts

– Benefits

– Tax

Once registered, your loved one will no longer have ultimate control over their financial circumstances. Therefore, when you make the judgment to put it in place, you will be completely certain it’s the right time to take the step.

Health and welfare lasting power of attorney

Arranging care on behalf of a loved one living with Alzheimer’s? Your loved one will need to put this form of lasting power of attorney in place.

Even in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s important to get a good understanding of your loved one’s wishes. Think about the following aspects of their day-to-day care:

– Whether they want to receive care in their own home or a residential care home,

– What food they want to eat, what daily activities they like to undertake and what clothes they like to wear. In establishing this, you should consider what a typical day looks like.

– Who they see and when – how often they have contact with friends and family.

However, these are just guidelines. In reality, you can make these tailored around your loved one’s preferences and your family’s circumstances.

Unlike a ‘finances and property’ LPA, the ‘health and welfare’ LPA can only be acted upon once someone has lost

What’s the difference between lasting and enduring power of attorney?

An enduring power of attorney was a legal instrument available up until October 2007. From that point onwards, LPAs became the new norm. An enduring power of attorney focused solely on the financial estate of the person no longer able to manage their own affairs.

It’s no longer possible to apply for an enduring power of attorney. That’s not a problem, because you’re able to get many of the benefits with a ‘finances and property’ lasting power of attorney.

LPAs significantly increased protection, with mandatory registration with the Office of the Public Guardian as soon as the decision is taken. Previously, with an EPA, all that was required was a signature which didn’t have to be registered at first. But only when the ‘donor’ had lost their capacity.

It’s no longer possible to apply for an enduring power of attorney. And that’s not a problem.

How do you put a lasting power of attorney in place?

The government body responsible for lasting power of attorney is the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Established in 1997, following the Mental Capacity Act, it’s to them that you should submit your completed lasting power of attorney forms.

The forms are easily available on the website, with a different version available for each type of LPA. Carefully work through the form of your selected LPA, print off the forms, sign them and send them into the OPG. You’re able to save your forms to complete later, should you need to.

The LPA will need to be signed by the attorneys, a witness and ‘certificate provider’. The latter has to be someone with relevant professional experience such as:

– a medical professional such as a doctor or nurse

– a legal expert such as a solicitor, lawyer, will writer

– a financial expert such as an accountant or financial advisor

Once it has been signed and returned the OPG, it can take up to ten weeks for it be registered. If there are any mistakes in your application, it will delay registration and will cost you £41. So it’s really worth checking with a legal professional before sending.

Lasting power of attorney costs

The basic cost is £82 per LPA, plus any additional charges for any mistakes. So, if you register both forms of LPA, that would cost £164.

You should also consider whether or not you need the support of a solicitor or lawyer. This can help minimise the chance of making a mistake, an important factor if you need everything completed quickly.

However, getting this professional support can cost you upwards of £300. And, realistically, there are enough resources on the government website to help you complete it yourself.