Getting your affairs in order before entering a residential home

If a person feels they need to appoint someone to look after their financial and other affairs when they are considering going into residential care, there are two forms of power they can grant. However, they must be done while the person is “of sound mind” (i.e. has the mental capacity) and this is a safeguard against their being put under any undue pressure to cede control of their affairs.

An ordinary Power of Attorney is only valid while you have the mental capacity to make your own decisions. If you want someone to be able to act on your behalf if there comes a time when you don’t have the mental capacity to make your own decisions, you should consider setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Mental capacity means the ability to make or communicate specific decisions at the time they need to be made. To have mental capacity you must understand the decision you need to make, why you need to make it, and the likely outcome of your decision.

To set up a PA or LPA, you need a form from the Office of the Public Guardian, which can be downloaded from their website.

There are two separate types of LPA:

  1. LPA for financial decisions
  2. LPA for health and care decisions

While you can fill in the forms yourself, it helps to have advice from an organisation such as Age Concern or a Solicitor, to avoid problems later.

Once the form is completed, it needs to be signed by a certificate provider. This is someone who confirms that you understand it and haven’t been put under any pressure to sign it. The certificate provider must be someone you know well or a professional person such as a doctor, social worker or solicitor.

The form then has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and there is a (current) fee of £82 per form, so if you are intending to have an LPA for each of the reasons above the cost would be £164. It may be possible for those on a low income or certain types of benefit to get a 50% discount on the fee.