3 Using a Lasting Power of Attorney
As soon as a Lasting Power of Attorney has been registered and the documentation received, it can be used at any time that you see fit – you don’t have to wait for the donor to lose capacity.
It might be that you need to use it straightaway, if your relative is very ill. Or you might need to use it every now and then for short periods while your relative is in hospital. On the other hand, the document might sit in a drawer for years before it’s needed.
To use the Lasting Power of Attorney, you must show a certified copy of it (not just a photocopy) to any organisation that you want to deal with on your relative's behalf, including his or her bank.
If you need additional certified copies at a later date, any solicitor should be able to do this for a small fee (around £5 per copy).
If your relative lacks mental capacity
If your relative is no longer able to make their own decisions, it’s too late to apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney. In this situation and if you live in England or Wales, you will have to make an application to the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection was set up by the Mental Capacity Act to represent the best interests of people who cannot make decisions for themselves. The Court can:
- decide whether someone is mentally capable of making decisions or not
- make decisions about the affairs of someone lacking mental capacity.
In the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney, the Court can appoint a ‘deputy’ to manage your relative’s affairs. This is most likely to be a close relative, but the court can appoint a professional if there is no one else suitable to do it.
You can read more about appointing a deputy in our article about the Mental Capacity Act.