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Signing an LPA allows you to decide who you would like to take on that responsibility for you and to include any particular wishes or conditions that you want taken into account.
You can sign a Property and Financial Affairs LPA (to cover financial decisions), a Health and Welfare LPA (to cover healthcare and personal welfare decisions), or both.
With a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, you can decide whether it comes into effect now - for example, if you need someone to take care of your financial affairs while you are travelling for an extended period -or only in certain circumstances - for example, if you become mentally incapable. A Health and Welfare LPA can only be used to take decisions for you when you lack mental capacity.
In either case, the choice of your Attorneys is crucial and Mary can advise you on the qualities to look for in an Attorney.
An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before your Attorney can act under it. Mary can discuss with you the best timing for this. Once it is registered, your Attorney can make decisions on your behalf within the restrictions of the LPA itself and subject to the statutory principles of the Mental Capacity Act.
If you become mentally incapable without having signed an LPA (or the old style Enduring Power of Attorney), someone on your behalf would have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order.
This is a more complex, and therefore more expensive procedure. Signing an LPA in advance of any mental incapacity is the preferred option, as you can express your own wishes as to how matters can be dealt with, should you lose mental capacity.