Solicitor warns about new online Powers of Attorney

Emma Jacobs, a solicitor with leading North Wales and Shropshire law firm GHP Legal, said it is vital that people understand the implications of ‘giving away' the responsibility for making critical decisions regarding their own medical and financial welfare and that to be absolutely sure of what they are doing they should consult a legal professional before beginning the process online.

"Once registered an LPA can be used by your attorneys to transfer money in and out of your bank accounts, sell your property and, in the case of a Health and Welfare LPA, make decisions about your medical treatment," says Miss Jacobs.

"A Lasting Power of Attorney is, as the name indicates, ‘lasting', which means your attorneys can continue to act on your behalf in the event that you become incapable of managing your own affairs or making your own decisions through illness or injury.

"If you create an LPA online, it still needs to be printed off and signed by the relevant parties - in a strict order and timescale. It must also be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be put into use. Any errors on the form, or in the timing of the signatures, could mean it is invalid.

"Whether it is an LPA appointing an attorney to deal with your property and financial affairs or an LPA appointing an attorney to make decisions regarding your health and welfare, once registered it cannot easily be revoked if you become incapacitated. The fee for registering an LPA is to be reduced from £130 to £110 on 1st October 2013.

"LPAs are very important documents that affect people's lives at a time when they cannot look after themselves. For peace of mind, I would recommend that they consult with a qualified legal professional who can explain exactly how it works and set it up for them."