A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can be one of the most important documents you’ll ever sign. An LPA is a legal document within which  you appoint people that you trust to make decisions in your best interests on your behalf whilst you are alive. They may need to act if you were to either be physically or mentally incapable of managing your own affairs.

Having an LPA prevents loss of income and saves your family any added stresses during a difficult time.

Despite this, millions of people in the UK don’t have this essential document simply because they don’t realise they exist or because they are confused about what they are and how they work.

With that in mind, we have put together six common myths surrounding LPAs.

1. “I don’t need an LPA because my next of kin can make important decisions on my behalf”

Not true – No one can act on your behalf or make decisions on your behalf if they have not been legally authorised to do so.

2. “My Will has appointed executors, so they’ll be able to make decisions on my behalf”

Not true – A Will is entirely separate to an LPA. Executors appointed in a Will only have the power of authority to distribute your estate as requested and in line with your Will, on death. They have no authority to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime.

3. “I don’t need an LPA until I become elderly and of ill health”

Again, not true! an LPA can be made by anyone over the age of 18 who has full mental capacity. Someone may lose capacity or no longer be able to make decisions due to an accident, being in a coma or other mental illnesses.

The sooner you put an LPA in place the better. You can the rest easy that provisions have been put in place in the event the unthinkable happens. If you wait and in that time you lose capacity, it will be too late to get an LPA and your loved ones will need to apply for Deputyship Order from the Court of Protection. This will not only take a long time but is also a costly process.

4. “Once my health and welfare is registered, it means someone else can make decisions for me and I don’t want that while I have capacity”

A health and welfare LPA only comes into effect when the donor loses capacity even if the LPA has been registered.

5. “Getting an LPA is expensive”

The cost of registering an LPA is £82 per document. In comparison, if you fail to make an LPA and lose capacity, your family will be left no other option but to apply for a Deputyship Order, which will cost significantly more.

6. “Me and my partner have joint accounts so we don’t need LPAs”

This is always the most alarming to couples when they are told that even if they have a joint bank account, this does not mean the partner will be able to automatically access funds to pay for bills, mortgage and general expenses. If the spouse was to lose capacity, the bank have the ability to remove access and freeze the account until they receive a copy of the registered LPA, which is extremely stressful for the spouse.