Lasting Power of Attorney
Why we should all have a Lasting Power of Attorney Grant in place
According to the Alzheimer’s Society by the year 2025 more than 1 million people in Britain will be suffering with dementia. One in five people over the age of 85 already has it, with women twice as likely to be sufferers than men. If you are unfortunate to be one of those who are diagnosed with this awful disease you will find that your financial affairs will become virtually impossible to manage. This is why so many charities who care for the elderly are now recommending that everyone plans ahead so as to ease the potential burden on our relatives.
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney does not mean that you can no longer make decisions for yourself. The purpose of these documents is so that if you are unable to make decisions in the future, your attorney can make these decisions for you. It does not mean that from the moment you complete the forms your attorney takes over making decisions for you. (Unless of course you want them to).
By arranging an LPA now, should you later become mentally or physically incapacitated, your chosen attorney will be able to avoid the long delays and expense that relatives without LPA grants usually suffer when applying to the court of protection to be appointed as deputies so they can get access and take control of your assets and finances for you.
Typically, including legal fees, registering as a deputy can cost £1,500 or more. In addition, deputies also have to pay an initial charge of £100 and then ongoing supervision fees, which depending on the level of supervision can be as much as £320 per year.
An application for Deputyship to the Court of Protection generally takes 6-9 months. During this time your accounts cannot be accessed by your loved ones to pay your bills. This can also lead to the wrong person being appointed as your deputy. For example, a professional person that you do not know, an estranged child or a spouse you may have separated from.
By having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place it will be YOU who decides who will deal with your affairs if you lose capacity and YOU will have more control over when your attorney will take over your affairs.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney.
LPA for Property and Financial Affairs
This is used for dealing with everyday financial affairs. For example, collecting benefits, paying bills, investing money, buying or selling property and generally looking after the financial affairs of the donor (you). This LPA can be used when you have lost mental capacity, but also when you still have mental capacity but are physically incapacitated and are unable to write cheques, make phone calls or go to the bank for example.
LPA for Health and Welfare
This is used for care and medical decisions. It gives one or more trusted persons the legal power to make decisions regarding your health and welfare. Your Attorney can make important decisions for example, refusal of medical treatment, where you are cared for and the type of care you receive. This LPA can only be used when you have lost mental capacity.
LPAs are designed to be recognised by financial institutions, care homes and local authorities, as well as tax, benefits and pension authorities. It is a good idea to not only arrange the LPAs but also to complete an advanced directive or “living will” at the same time so that your chosen Attorney’s are fully aware of all your wishes well in advance of the powers being needed to be used.
Lasting Powers of Attorney have to be drafted whilst you still have mental capacity. If you do not have an LPA and lose capacity then it is too late and a deputy will have to be appointed by the court.
You can either register your LPAs now or hold them until you or your chosen attorney thinks you need them and then register them at that time. The benefit of doing this is that it avoids having to pay £82 to register a Power with the Office of the Public Guardian now, (£328 for a couple having 2 powers each), that might never actually be needed or could be exempt from registration fees altogether in the future.