Lasting Powers of Attorney: 4 Common Mistakes to Avoid

LPA

When it comes to Lasting Powers of Attorney, it really is important to get yours set up correctly. Not only can mistakes prove costly as there are charges for resubmitting forms and paperwork, if an LPA isn’t properly set up and remains unregistered, it’s not valid. This may leave vulnerable people at risk of not having their affairs properly managed.

To help you get your LPA set up right first time, here’s our guidance on four common mistakes to avoid. Note that these common mistakes cover both things that will invalidate the LPA itself, such as filling out the form incorrectly, as well as things that will make the LPA less effective or unworkable, even if it’s theoretically still valid.

So, read on to find out the 4 common mistakes to avoid when you’re setting up your Lasting Power of Attorney

1. Appointing the wrong attorneys

Choosing the right attorneys to look after your interests is absolutely vital. You need to be confident that you’ve chosen appropriate attorneys, as these will be the people making decisions over your finances or healthcare. You’ll need to choose people that you trust and that you believe will wholeheartedly accept the role and continue to make the right choices for you.

It’s also worth considering the long-term health of your attorneys, too. If your attorneys were to die or lose mental capacity themselves, they’ll obviously no longer be able to fulfil their duties under your LPA. It’s possible to anticipate this by naming replacement attorneys who will only be able to act in specific circumstances.

2. Making errors on the forms or paperwork

The forms that you have to fill out to set up an LPA are complex and it’s essential that you get them right – they are the official record of the LPA. Of course, there’s a huge range of errors that you could make – but some common ones to ensure you’re checking for are:

  • Missing information or skipping questions on the form
  • Not getting the form properly signed, or not signed in the right order
  • Using the wrong form (each type of LPA has a different form)
  • Not including any person’s full legal name and address
  • For paper forms, using pencil or corrections fluid (these must be filled out in ink)

Making any of these errors could mean that your application is rejected. We’d recommend getting a professional estate planner to help, as they’re experienced in making sure the forms are filled out in the right way.

3. Accidentally including illegal or unlawful instructions

There are a number of specific things that are illegal to instruct as part of an LPA. Many of these are obvious, like any instructions to assist with suicide or criminal activity, or if you have a health and welfare LPA and try and make instructions to do with property and finance (these are two separate types of LPA).

However, some other things are still illegal to include, which you may not be aware of. For example, if you ask your attorneys to follow the decision of somebody who isn’t an attorney, or asking your attorneys to make certain types of gifts on your behalf.

4. Setting out unclear attorney roles

Your attorneys need to have clear roles and duties. If you have both property and financial affairs and health and welfare LPAs in place, you need to ensure that you’ve got attorneys properly set out for each – these can be the same people, but they do need to be included on both LPAs if they will be making decisions in both areas. Somebody being an attorney for one doesn’t automatically give them the ability to make decisions for the other type.

It’s also important that you think about how you want your attorneys to work together, if you have several people. For example, attorneys can make decisions either “jointly” or “jointly and severally”. “Jointly” means they must all agree, whereas “jointly and severally” means individual attorneys can act independently. You may want to ask that attorneys make certain decisions “jointly”, while specifying that others could be made “jointly and severally” – but if you do so you need to be extremely clear on exactly which decisions are which.

So, there you have it. Now you know these 4 common mistakes people make when setting up their LPAs, you should find it easier to get your own set up.

To speak to the professionals regarding your LPA, just get in touch with Face to Face Estate Planning. Our friendly team can help you with all aspects of your LPA and ensure yours is fully valid, effective, and meets your needs.