When Does a Lasting Power of Attorney Come into Force?

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that must be made in accordance with the proper legal code by a solicitor. It empowers another person to make important decisions on behalf of another person who for any reason is unable to make decisions for themselves. A power of attorney can be particularly significant in the case of individuals in long term care.

It can take up to nine weeks to register the document with the Office of the Public Guardian these days. The document only comes into force once it has been successfully registered. The Mental Capacity Act clearly sets out guidelines on how to determine whether a person is incapable of making decisions themselves. Generally a court or medical professional will help determine whether this is the case.

A lasting power of attorney can be registered by an individual in advance – while they are capable of making decisions. The document can set out the person or people who will be responsible for making decisions on the applicant’s behalf, as well as what those decisions will be and how they will be made. This means that a lasting power of attorney can essentially be like a will to be executed if and when the individual loses the mental capacity to make decisions on their own.

When you appoint an attorney to make decisions on your behalf, they have certain responsibilities. As per the Mental Capacity Act, it is mandatory for the attorney to make decisions in your best interest. They must only make decisions which the power of attorney allows them to make. They do not have the authority, unless specifically stated, to pass on their responsibilities to someone else.

In case of a health and welfare power of attorney, you can appoint your representative to make decisions related to any or all the aspects of your health and welfare, including medical treatment, accepting or refusing any type of health care, and also decisions related to where care will be received.

A lasting power of attorney is a very significant document for those in long term care, and steps are taken to ensure that it is not misused. The system has put stop checks in place to ensure that the document is never made against someone’s will. Also, once made, the power of attorney can be cancelled at any time by the individual if they so wish provided they have the mental capacity to make the decision.

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Long Term care advice is also available from Independent Financial Advisers such as these:

SOLLA • Society of Later Life Advisers
Information on NHS Care
Carers UK