How to Change Your Lasting Power of Attorney

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Changing your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) typically involves two steps. First, you’ll need to revoke your existing LPA if you still have the mental capacity to do so. This can be done through a Deed of Revocation.  Then, you’ll need to create a new LPA document appointing your desired attorney(s). It’s advisable to consult a solicitor for guidance throughout this process.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is an important legal safeguard, empowering someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do so. However, life circumstances change, and you may find it necessary to change your appointed attorney.  Whether it’s due to shifting relationships, changing needs, or simply a change of heart, this guide will walk you through the steps of changing your LPA and ensure your future care and financial decisions are entrusted to the right person.

Understanding Power of Attorney

Let’s break down the basics of Power of Attorney to make sure we’re all on the same page:

  • What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)? Think of it like a backup plan for your future.  An LPA is a legal document where you choose someone (or multiple people) to make decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so yourself due to illness or an accident.
  • Types of LPAs:  In the UK, there are a few different types of LPAs, each focusing on specific areas:
    • Health and Welfare LPA: Covers decisions about your medical care, where you live, and other personal matters.
    • Property and Finance LPA: Deals with decisions about your money, property, and other financial matters.
  • Mental Capacity:  This is crucial!  You can only set up or change an LPA while you still have the mental capacity to understand and make these important decisions.
  • Not for Everyday Stuff:   An LPA doesn’t give your attorney control over everyday choices like what you eat or wear. It’s specifically for major decisions if you’re unable to make them for yourself.

Valid Reasons to Change Your Attorney

There are many legitimate reasons why you might decide to change the person you’ve appointed as your attorney. Here are some common scenarios:

  • Changes in Relationship:  Life is unpredictable.  Relationships with your current attorney, whether a family member, friend, or professional, may change over time.  Perhaps there’s been a falling out, or you no longer feel they’re the best person to represent your interests.
  • Changing Circumstances: Your attorney may have moved away, become too busy, or might sadly no longer be in a position to fulfil their responsibilities.
  • Evolving Needs: As your situation changes, you may decide that someone with different expertise or a closer understanding of your current life would be a better fit as your attorney.
  • Personal Preference: Ultimately, you have the right to change your attorney simply because you want to.  Perhaps you’ve met someone you trust more or simply changed your mind.

Important Point: You don’t necessarily need a specific reason to change your attorney.  It’s your decision, and you should choose someone you have absolute confidence in.

How to Change Your Attorney

Key Requirement: Mental Capacity

To change your existing LPA, it’s essential that you still have the mental capacity to make this decision. This means you understand what an LPA is and the implications of changing your attorney.  If you have already lost mental capacity, the process becomes more complex.

Steps for Change

If you meet the mental capacity requirement, here’s what you’ll generally need to do:

  1. Revoke Your Old LPA:
    • You’ll need to create a “Deed of Revocation,” which is a formal document cancelling your existing LPA.
    • There are templates available online, but it’s highly advisable to get help from a solicitor (a specialised lawyer).
  2. Create a New LPA:
    • Just like setting up your first LPA, you’ll fill out forms and choose your new attorney(s).
    • Consider consulting a solicitor to guide you through the choices and ensure your new LPA is set up correctly.

Costs Involved

Changing your LPA isn’t free.  There are fees for both revoking your old LPA and registering your new one. These costs can vary across the UK, so it’s important to check the latest fees on the relevant government websites.

Always Seek Legal Advice

Changing a Power of Attorney is a serious legal matter.  Seeking guidance from a solicitor will ensure the process is done correctly and your best interests are protected.

What if Your Attorney is Making Bad Decisions?

It can be incredibly stressful if you feel your attorney isn’t acting in your best interests after your LPA has become active.  The good news is, you’re not powerless! Here’s what you can do:

Talk to Your Attorney (If Possible)

If you’re able to communicate, try having a direct conversation with your attorney.  Calmly explain your concerns and see if there’s a misunderstanding or a way to resolve the issue together.

Seek Mediation

If talking directly isn’t possible or doesn’t help, consider mediation.  This involves a neutral third-party helping you and your attorney find common ground.

Contact the Authorities

If you suspect serious wrongdoing or believe your attorney is intentionally harming you, don’t hesitate to contact the appropriate authorities:

Court of Protection

As a last resort, you or someone acting on your behalf can apply to the Court of Protection.  They have the power to investigate, make decisions about your care, and even replace your attorney if necessary.

Important Note: Taking action against your attorney can be complicated. It’s always best to seek legal advice before making any major moves.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Can I change my attorney if I’ve lost mental capacity?
    • Unfortunately, you can’t directly change your attorney if you’ve already been assessed as lacking mental capacity. If you have serious concerns, a concerned friend, family member, or professional can apply to the Court of Protection on your behalf.
  • Can I stop being someone else’s attorney?
    • Yes, you have the right to resign as someone’s attorney. However, it’s important to inform them of your decision and ensure a replacement is found (with the help of a solicitor if needed).
  • What are the alternatives to an LPA?
    • There are a few options, but they offer varying levels of control and protection:
      • Advance Decisions (Living Wills): Allow you to state your wishes for medical treatment in specific future scenarios.
      • Deputyship: Involves court approval for someone to make decisions on your behalf if you lack mental capacity. This can be more time-consuming and expensive than setting up an LPA beforehand.

Protecting Your Future Decisions

Changing your Lasting Power of Attorney may feel daunting, but it’s your right to ensure the person representing you has your absolute trust and  understands your best interests.  By following the steps outlined in this guide and seeking appropriate support, you can safeguard your future choices.

Remember, careful planning is essential.  Proactively setting up or updating your LPA provides peace of mind knowing your wishes will be respected, even in unforeseen circumstances.

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