Powers of attorney

After 2007—the end of Enduring Powers of Attorney?

Sophie Lindsay, Trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, family and children team.
Sophie Lindsay
2 min Read

Trainee solicitor Sophie Lindsay outlines the difference between EPAs and LPAs, explaining why upgrading to an LPA may be beneficial for EPA-holders.

EPA or LPA? You may have heard these acronyms when the uncomfortable conversation of end-of-life legal provisions comes around. Their significance and disparities may be greater than you had realised, especially if you or a loved one hold the former.

From EPAs to LPAs

Let’s start with EPAs. Until October 2007 it was possible to make an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). These were legal documents allowing a person of your choosing to act and make decisions on your behalf in relation to your property and financial affairs, should you lose your mental capacity. The EPAs made before 1 October 2007 are still valid but are limited compared to their modern counterpart.

Anyone wishing to create this kind of legal protection post-2007 would now make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). The LPA works in a similar way to the EPA but has additional scope to allow your appointed attorneys to also make decisions regarding health and welfare. There are two types of LPA, one for health and welfare decisions and the other for financial affairs. This makes a set of LPAs some of the most important and powerful documents that you ever make. Especially given that LPAs are for use during your lifetime and could become relevant sooner than anticipated. It is projected that over one million people in the UK will be living with dementia by 2025 and one in two of us will be affected by dementia in our lifetime. And that’s not taking into account unexpected accidents or other illnesses which can affect your brain function.

Safeguarding measures

LPAs provide greater reassurance to those creating them (known as donors) as there are several safeguarding measures in place that have even been expanded as recently as 2023, thanks to the new Powers of Attorney Act. An LPA can provide greater peace of mind than an EPA as, if they are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, they can be used immediately, allowing those you trust to legally support you when you need it most. This is a vast improvement on the EPA system, whereby attorneys must send the EPA to the Office of the Public Guardian once the donor has lost capacity, just when they need help the most, causing unnecessary delay during difficult times.

A registered LPA for financial affairs has the option to permit your attorneys to assist you when you still have mental capacity, but are suffering physical limitations. This flexibility can prove beneficial in various scenarios, such as during a short-term illness, whilst abroad, or in case of mobility, vision, or hearing challenges. In contrast, an EPA, once registered for use, relinquishes all control from the donor. Unfortunately, we are now also seeing unregistered EPAs being rejected by some financial institutions, resulting in the donor needing to make LPAs in any event.

If you or someone you love currently holds an EPA, consider how our experts in private client law could register your wishes more effectively in the form of an LPA. 

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