Putting off that Lasting Power of Attorney? Why now is the time for action
The number of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) registered last year plummeted sharply due, in all probability, to the effects of lockdowns, social distancing and shielding enforced throughout the pandemic.
This has led to warnings from health professionals and those working with the elderly and vulnerable that a growing number of people have not put in place important safeguarding plans for their future.
Figures from the Office of the Public Guardian, the government department which logs LPA registrations, shows that the number dropped by 25% over the last year. In 2020/21 just 691,746 LPAs were made compared to 917,550 in 2019/20.
Although there are now signs the situation is improving, it's crucial for anyone who has been delaying making an LPA to take steps to address the situation.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA, if drawn up properly by a specialist solicitor, is a positive and effective tool which ensures your wishes are respected should you ever lose mental capacity and are unable to manage your own affairs.
For an LPA to be valid, the person making it - known as the donor - must fully understand the implications of the arrangement at the time. It's called having mental capacity which is why it's so vital to think ahead.
In making a Lasting Power of Attorney you are not signing away your rights to make decisions. The documents, like an insurance policy, are instead there for peace of mind in case they are ever needed in the future.
Lasting Powers of Attorney enable you to choose the person (or people) you want to manage your finances, pay bills and make medical decisions (including where you live) in case you are not be able to make those decisions in the future.
Why should I have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Without an LPA, friends and family are not legally allowed to step in and make decisions for you if you lose mental capacity.
Instead, the Court of Protection will need to be involved in deciding who acts for you - this could be someone you wouldn't have chosen yourself.
This court case is not only costly and stressful but can also take a long time with a recent increase in such applications causing a substantial backlog and significant delays to the deputyship process.
Why should I use a solicitor for my LPA?
Lasting Powers of Attorney are immensely powerful documents and should not be entered into lightly.
Choosing a quick online version may seem like the cheap and easy option but for most people, seeking professional legal advice is the best way of ensuring than an LPA is effective, legally robust and safe.
It also safeguards against an LPA being drawn up with errors that turn out later to be expensive, time consuming and extremely stressful to put right.
Get in touch
Wards Solicitors' specialist Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity lawyers are trained to give you highly confidential, bespoke advice about the options available.
We can also help if you'd like to consider appointing a professional, such as a solicitor, as your attorney. They can act as a neutral third party and make unbiased decisions that are in your best interests. This usually involves a cost.
We provide a free initial meeting, which is always socially distanced, and can be via video or telephone call if you prefer.
For more information, we also have a series of legal guides to help you:
- Lasting Powers of Attorney - what are they?
- Lasting Powers of Attorney - the role of the attorney
- Lasting Powers of Attorney - the certificate provider
- Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney