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Lasting Power of Attorney

What is the role of a Lasting Power of Attorney

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Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can generally make decisions about matters including:

  • Where you should live
  • Your medical care
  • What you should eat
  • Whom you should have contact with
  • What kind of social activities you should take part in

Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs decisions can cover:

  • Buying and selling property
  • Paying the mortgage
  • Investing money
  • Paying bills
  • Arranging repairs to property

Lasting Power of Attorney

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Giving someone you trust the authority to help you make decisions

As someone becomes more unwell, they’re likely to and it more difficult to manage money and financial affairs, and may become too unwell to make decisions about health and care. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document in which someone (the donor) gives another person (the attorney) the right to help them make decisions, or take decisions on their behalf.

An LPA is a completely separate legal document to your Will, although many people put them in place at the same time as getting their Will written as part of wanting to plan for the future. Many people find it reassuring to know that someone they trust will be able to make decisions on their behalf if they become too unwell.

During your lifetime

Once you have an LPA in place, you can have peace of mind that there is someone you trust to look after your affairs if you became unable to do so yourself during your lifetime. This may occur, for example, because of an illness, old age or an accident.

Having an LPA in place can allow your attorney to have authority to deal with your finances and property as well as make decisions about your health and welfare. Your LPA can include binding instructions together with general preferences for your attorney to consider. Your LPA should reflect your particular wishes so you know that the things that matter most would be taken care of.

Required legal capacity

You can only put an LPA in place while you are capable of understanding the nature and effect of the document, for example, you have the
required legal capacity. After this point, you cannot enter into a LPA and no one can do so on your behalf.

Many people don’t know that their next of kin has no automatic legal right to manage their spouse’s affairs without an LPA in place, so having to make decisions on their behalf can become prolonged and significantly more expensive. In England and Wales there are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney.

Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can generally make decisions about matters including:

  • where you should live
  • your medical care
  • what you should eat
  • whom you should have contact with
  • what kind of social activities you should take part in

You can also give special permission for your attorney to make decisions about life-saving treatment.

Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs decisions can cover:

  • buying and selling property
  • paying the mortgage
  • investing money
  • paying bills
  • arranging repairs to property

Manage your affairs

Without an LPA in place there is no one with the legal authority to manage your affairs, for example, to access bank accounts or investments in your name or sell your property on your behalf. Unfortunately, many people assume that their spouse, partner or children will just be able to take care of things but the reality is that simply isn’t the case.

In these circumstances, in order for someone to obtain legal authority over your affairs, that person would need to apply to the Court of Protection and the Court will decide on the person to be appointed to manage your affairs. The person chosen is appointed your ‘Deputy’.
This is a very different type of appointment, which is significantly more involved and costly than being appointed attorney under an LPA.

If you wish to have peace of mind that a particular person will have the legal authority to look after your affairs and you want to make matters easier for them and less expensive, then you should obtain professional advice about putting in place an LPA.

Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

Allows you to name attorneys to make decisions about your healthcare, treatments and living arrangements if you lose the ability to make those decisions yourself. Unlike the Property and Financial Affairs LPA, this document will only ever become effective if you lack the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.

If you can’t communicate your wishes, you could end up in a care home when you may have preferred to stay in your own home. You may also receive medical treatments or be put into a nursing home that you would have refused if only you had the opportunity to express yourself; and this is when your attorney, appointed by the LPA, can speak for you.

Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

Allows you to name attorneys to deal with all your property and financial assets in England and Wales. $e LPA document can be restricted
so it can only be used if you were to lose mental capacity, or it can be used more widely, such as if you suffer from illness, have mobility issues or if you spend time outside the UK.

Protecting you and your family should the worst happen

Do you need help managing the financial affairs or health decisions of a relative? Are you concerned that failing health may leave you incapable of managing your own finances and general wellbeing? Arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney could be used to protect you and your family should the worst happen. To find out more, please contact us.

This guide has been designed to assist you with some of the general issues and to answer questions that you may have. This guide is only intended to be a general overview of the law in England and Wales in relation to Lasting Powers of Attorney. While every effort has been made to ensure this guide’s accuracy, it doesn’t constitute legal advice. If you act on it, you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. Professional legal advice should always be obtained.

Estate Protection

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Preserving your wealth and transferring it effectively.

Estate planning is an important part of wealth management, no matter how much wealth you have built up. It’s the process of making a plan for how your assets will be distributed upon your death or incapacitation.

As a nation, we are reluctant to talk about inheritance. Through estate planning, however, you can ensure your assets are given to the people and organisations you care about, and you can also take steps to minimise the impact of taxes and other costs on your estate.

In order to establish the value of your estate, it is first necessary to calculate the total worth of all your assets. No matter how large or how modest, your estate is comprised of everything you own, including your home, cars, other properties, savings and investments, life insurance (if not written in an appropriate trust), furniture, jewellery, works of art, and any other personal possessions.

Having an effective estate plan in place will not only help to ensure that those you care about the most will be taken care of when you’re no longer around, but it can also help minimise Inheritance Tax (IHT) liabilities and ensure that assets are transferred in an orderly manner.

Write a Will

The reason to make a Will is to control how your estate is divided – but it isn’t just about money. Your Will is also the document in which you appoint guardians to look after your children or your dependents. Almost half (44%) of over-55s have not made a Will[1], and as such, they will not have any say in what happens to their assets when they die.

Should you die without a valid Will, you will have died intestate. In these cases, your assets are distributed according to the Intestacy Rules in a set order laid down by law. This order may not reflect your wishes.

Even for those who are married or in a registered civil partnership, dying without leaving a Will may mean that your spouse or registered civil partner does not inherit the whole of your estate. Remember: life and circumstances change over time, and your Will should reflect those changes – so keep it updated.

Make a Lasting Power of Attorney

Increasingly, more people in the UK are using legal instruments that ensure their affairs are looked after when they become incapable of looking after their finances or making decisions about their health and welfare.

By arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney, you are officially naming someone to have the power to take care of your property, your financial affairs, and your health and welfare if you suffer an incapacitating illness or injury.

Plan for Inheritance Tax

IHT is calculated based on the value of the property, money and possessions of someone who has died if the total value of their assets exceeds £325,000, or £650,000 if they’re married or widowed. If you plan ahead, it is usually possible to pass on more of your wealth to your chosen beneficiaries and to pay less IHT.

Since April 2017, an additional main residence nil-rate band allowance was phased in. It is currently worth £150,000, but it will rise to £175,000 per person by April this year. However, not everyone will be able to benefit from the new allowance, as you can only use it if you are passing your home to your children, grandchildren or any other lineal descendant. If you don’t have any direct descendants, you won’t qualify for the allowance.

The headline rate of IHT is 40%, though there are various exemptions, allowances and reliefs that mean that the effective rate paid on estates is usually lower. Those leaving some of their estate to registered charities can qualify for a reduced headline rate of 36% on the part of the estate they leave to family and friends.

Gift Assets while you’re Alive

One thing that’s important to remember when developing an estate plan is that the process isn’t just about passing on your assets when you die. It’s also about analysing your finances now and potentially making the most of your assets while you are still alive. By gifting assets to younger generations while you’re still around, you could enjoy seeing the assets put to good use, while simultaneously reducing your IHT bill.

Make use of Gift Allowances

One way to pass on wealth tax-efficiently is to take advantage of gift allowances that are in place. Every person is allowed to make an IHT-free gift of up to £3,000 in any tax year, and this allowance can be carried forward one year if you don’t use up all your allowance.

This means you and your partner could gift your children or grandchildren £6,000 this year (or £12,000 if your previous year’s allowances weren’t used up) and that gift won’t incur IHT. You can continue to make this gift annually.

You are able to make small gifts of up to £250 per year to anyone you like. There is no limit to the number of recipients in one tax year, and these small gifts will also be IHT-free provided you have made no other gifts to that person during the tax year.

A Potentially Exempt Transfer (PET) enables you to make gifts of unlimited value which will become exempt from Inheritance Tax if you survive for a period of seven years.

Gifts that are made out of surplus income can also be free of IHT, as long as detailed records are maintained.

IHT-Exempt Assets

There are a number of specialist asset classes that are exempt to IHT. Several of these exemptions stem from government efforts over the years to protect farms and businesses from large Inheritance Tax bills that could result in assets having to be sold off when they were passed down to the next generation. Business relief (BR) acts to protect business owners from IHT on their business assets. It extends to include the ownership of shares in any unlisted company. It also offers partial relief for those who own majority rights in listed companies, land, buildings or business machinery, or have such assets held in a trust.

Life Insurance within a Trust

A life insurance policy in trust is a legal arrangement that keeps a life insurance pay-out separate from the valuation of your estate after you die. By ring-fencing the proceeds from a life insurance policy by putting it in an appropriate trust, you could protect it from IHT. The proceeds of a trust are typically overseen by a trustee(s) whom you appoint. These proceeds go to the people you’ve chosen, known as your ‘beneficiaries’. It’s the responsibility of the trustee(s) to make sure the money you’ve set aside goes to whom you want it to after you pass away.

Keep Wealth within a Pension

When you die, your pension funds may be inherited by your loved ones. But who inherits, and how much, is governed by complex rules. Money left in your pensions can be passed on to anyone you choose more tax-efficiently than ever, depending on the type of pension you have, by you nominating to whom you would like to leave your pension savings (your Will won’t do this for you) and your age when you die, before or after the age of 75.

Your pension is normally free of IHT, unlike many other investments. It is not part of your taxable estate. Keeping your pension wealth within your pension fund and passing it down to future generations can be very tax-efficient estate planning.

It combines IHT-free investment returns and potentially, for some beneficiaries, tax-free withdrawals. Remember that any money you take out of your pension becomes part of your estate and could be subject to IHT. This includes any of your tax-free cash allowance which you might not have spent. Also, older style pensions may be inside your estate for IHT.

Make Sure Wealth Stays in the Right Hands

Estate planning is a complex area that is subject to regular regulatory change. Whatever you wish for your wealth, we can tailor a plan that reflects your priorities and particular circumstances. To find out more, or if you have any questions relating to estate planning, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Source data: [1] Brewin Dolphin research: Opinium surveyed 5,000 UK adults online between 30 August and 5 September 2018.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations. Any levels and bases of, and reliefs from. Taxation are subject to change. The rules around trusts are complicated, so you should always obtain professional advice. The value of investments and the income they produce can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.

Lasting Power Of Attorney

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Making decisions on your behalf during your lifetime

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime. The people you appoint to manage your affairs are called the ‘attorneys’. An LPA is a completely separate legal document to your Will, although many people put them in place at the same time as getting their will written, as part of wanting to plan for the future.

During your lifetime 

Once you have an LPA in place, you can have peace of mind that there is someone you trust to look after your affairs if you became unable to do so yourself during your lifetime. This may occur, for example, because of an illness, old age or an accident. 

Having an LPA in place can allow your attorney to have authority to deal with your finances and property, as well as make decisions about your health and welfare. Your LPA can include binding instructions together with general preferences for your attorney to consider. Your LPA should reflect your particular wishes so you know that the things that matter most would be taken care of.

Required legal capacity 

You can only put an LPA in place whilst you are capable of understanding the nature and effect of the document (for example, you have the required legal capacity). After this point, you cannot enter into an LPA, and no one can do so on your behalf. 

Many people don’t know that their next of kin has no automatic legal right to manage their spouse’s affairs without an LPA in place, so having to make decisions on their behalf can become prolonged and significantly more expensive.

A Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare can generally make decisions about matters including: 

  • Where you should live 
  •  Your medical care and what you should eat 
  •  Who you should have contact with 
  •  What kind of social activities you should take part in 

You can also give special permission for your attorney to make decisions about life-saving treatment.

Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs decisions can cover:   

  • Buying and selling property 
  •  Paying the mortgage 
  •  Paying bills 
  •  Arranging repairs to property

Manage your affairs 

Without an LPA in place, there is no one with the legal authority to manage your affairs, for example, to access bank accounts or investments in your name or sell your property on your behalf. Unfortunately, many people assume that their spouse, partner or children will just be able to take care of things, but the reality is that simply isn’t the case. 

In these circumstances, in order for someone to obtain legal authority over your affairs, that person would need to apply to the Court of Protection, and the Court will decide on the person to be appointed to manage your affairs. The person chosen is appointed your ‘deputy’. This is a very different type of appointment, which is significantly more involved and costly than being appointed attorney under an LPA.

 If you wish to have peace of mind that a particular person will have the legal authority to look after your affairs, and you want to make matters easier for them and less expensive, then you should obtain professional advice about putting in place an LPA.

Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney 

This allows you to name attorneys to make decisions about your healthcare, treatments and living arrangements if you lose the ability to make those decisions yourself. Unlike the Property and Financial Affairs LPA, this document will only ever become effective if you lack the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. 

If you can’t communicate your wishes, you could end up in a care home when you may have preferred to stay in your own home. You may also receive medical treatments or be put into a nursing home that you would have refused, if only you had the opportunity to express yourself – and this is when your attorney, appointed by the LPA, can speak for you.

Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney 

This allows you to name attorneys to deal with all your property and financial assets in England and Wales. The LPA document can be restricted, so it can only be used if you were to lose mental capacity, or it can be used more widely, such as if you suffer from illness, have mobility issues or if you spend time outside the UK.

If you wish to have peace of mind that a particular person will have the legal authority to look after your affairs, and you want to make matters easier for them and less expensive, then you should obtain professional advice about putting in place an LPA.