Lasting power of attorney

We explain what a Lasting power of attorney is and why you might consider making one. It also provides practical advice and guidance.

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Many people with dementia will eventually reach a point where they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves – this is known as lacking ‘mental capacity’. When this happens, someone else – often a carer or family member – will need to make decisions on their behalf.

Lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal tool that gives another adult the legal authority to make certain decisions for someone, if they become unable to make them themselves. The person who is given LPA is known as an ‘attorney’. They can manage finances, or make decisions relating to a person's health and welfare. 

The information in this section is for people living in England and Wales, and isn’t intended for those living in Northern Ireland, where the laws governing powers of attorney are different.

Northern Ireland: Enduring power of attorney and controllership

For those living in Northern Ireland the laws governing powers of attorney are different. If you live in Northern Ireland, please view our section on Enduring power of attorney and controllership in NI.

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Who can make an LPA?

Anyone who is over the age of 18 and has the mental capacity to do so can make an LPA.

Once a person has lost mental capacity, they will not be able to appoint an LPA. If the person’s family or friends then want to be able to make certain decisions on their behalf, they will need to apply for deputyship.

Benefits of making an LPA

  • It can be reassuring to know that, if you are unable to make a decision for yourself in the future, the person you choose will make these decisions for you.
  • Making an LPA ensures that the person you want to make decisions for you will be able to do so. This prevents a stranger, or someone you may not trust, from having this power.
  • Making an LPA now will make things easier for your family and friends in future. It will be more expensive, difficult and time-consuming for them to get the authority to act on your behalf when you are not able to give it.
  • Making an LPA can start discussions with your family or others about what you want to happen in future.

Other ways to plan ahead

After a diagnosis of dementia, lots of people decide to put plans in place for their future. There are a number of ways that you can do this. Collectively, this is known as ‘advance care planning’. It may be difficult at this time to think about the future, but it can also be reassuring to know that you have made your wishes and preferences clear, and have people who will be able to make decisions in your best interests.

Advance care planning allows you to make choices and decisions about your future care, in case there is a time when you can’t make them for yourself. Lasting powers of attorney are just one way to plan ahead. Other ways to plan ahead include advance statements or advance decisions. These allow you to put in writing that you want to refuse certain treatments, or your preferences about other care choices. 

Other things you might think about are putting your finances in order and making a will, or updating a will you have already made. 

Advance decision (Living wills)

Further information about planning ahead with advance decisions and statements. 

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