Lasting Power of Attorney

A lasting Power of Attorney keeps your affairs in the right hands if you loose mental capacity, but it is not only for the elderly.

We would be shocked if we were told that 99% of the adult population had not written a will. However, according to a recent survey, yet fewer than 1% of adults have made Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), which can often lead to serious consequences.

Often when we speak to people regarding their initial approach for an (LPA), we talk to them  thinking of the (LPA) as an insurance policy, and one that could someday prove vital.

At a fraction of the cost of most policies, it insures individuals against losing the ability to look after their own affairs, everybody hopes they will never need it, but if they do, it will protect against an individual’s affairs being managed contrary to their wishes.

What is an (LPA)?

It is a legal document which an individual authorises somebody, or perhaps more than one person, to make decisions on their behalf when they do not have the capacity to do so themselves. The person nominated is the ‘attorney’, and the person making the (LPA) is the ‘donor’.

There are two distinct types of (LPA). The most commonly known variety is the Property and Financial Affairs (LPA). This as the name suggests, deals with financial matters. The attorney can operate bank accounts buy and sell property in the individual’s name, and run their business or investments if needs be.

The other type is a Health and Welfare (LPA), in which some one can stipulate the sort of care they want in later life – home nursing say, or a particular type of care home. It can also include a do not resuscitate order. An unmarried couple could use an (LPA) to empower one partner to make medical decisions on behalf of the other, that could prove useful in hospitals where that right may otherwise be questioned.

The most common reason for having an (LPA) is dementia. One in every 3 people over the age of 65 will develop some form of dementia. But the power does not only come into play towards the end of life. People can loose their capacity to act at any time through injury, accident or illness. Every 90 seconds somebody goes into hospital with an acquired brain injury, according to the charity Headway.

So, while every older person should have a (LPA), younger people should be thinking about this too. The NHS now suggests that everybody should have an (LPA).

We are often asked, what are the consequences if we do not have an (LPA) and we loose our mental capacity. This question is often raised about client’s parents. If you are mentally incapable and do not have an (LPA), you must apply to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy to act for you. That is very expensive and very slow. It can take at least 9 months and longer, whilst the assets are largely in limbo, and frankly the creditors do not wait that long.

Anybody over the age of 18 years can be an attorney. The attorney should of course be somebody who can be trusted completely, a relative, a friend or perhaps a solicitor or an accountant. More than one attorney can be selected, and replacements can be named in case the original attorneys become unable or are unwilling to act.

We are often approached for Powers of Attorney to be made urgently. One thing that should be noted is that the Power of Attorney only becomes legal once the actual documentation becomes registered at the Office of Public Guardians, and returned stamped as an approved Power of Attorney. In our experience this is taking up to 18 weeks for the Office of Public Guardians to do this work, and there is no procedure for an urgent application. Therefore, if there is the possibility that somebody requires a Power of Attorney, it should not be delayed, it should be dealt with quickly.

If you have an queries with regards to the Power of Attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Applications for Lasting Powers of Attorney, sometimes referred to as ‘Living Wills’

The number of applications for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), has doubled in the last two years.

The Times says that half a million LPA’s, were set up last year by people seeking to protect their interests, in case they develop illnesses like dementia at some point in the future.

LPA’s which are sometimes referred to as Livings Wills, enable you to appoint somebody you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the capacity to do so for yourself.

You can have an LPA to cover your financial matters or personal welfare issues or both, the same person can cover both functions, or you can appoint different people if you prefer.

It is likely that the number of applications for LPA’s will continue to increase over the coming years, as the population ages, and people become more concerned about their health and mental capacity.

The system is administered by The Office of Public Guardians, which ensure safe guards are in place to protect your interests.

LPA’s should be set up with the help of somebody who understands the complexities of the drafting of the LPA, to ensure that they fully meet your needs, and provide the necessary safe guards to give you peace of mind.

One thing that should be remembered is that, an LPA can only be used once it has been registered and returned to us from The Office of Public Guardians.

At the moment some applications are taking up to 18 weeks, and these are the ones where no requisitions are made.

Therefore, if you believe you need an LPA, you should consider it well in advance of when you would actually need to use one.

If you require any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.