Lasting Power of Attorney – what we all need to know
It’s sad but true – with our population ageing fast and more people diagnosed with debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s, an increasing number of us will need to think about appointing someone to oversee our affairs in the future. Or we may be asked to carry out that role on behalf of a loved one.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) – allows you to nominate a friend or family member to manage your personal and financial affairs in the event you lose the ability to do so – and a record number, almost 400,000 last year, are now being registered annually.
But worryingly, complaints about the conduct of those appointed to act as an LPA are on the up too, the majority instigated by concerned relatives or friends alleging financial abuse.
More so than ever before, it’s vital to have the right advice and relevant information to hand.
Think you might need an LPA in the future?
It is crucial to carefully consider who you appoint – trust is vital as you may ultimately be giving them the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lose capacity.
There are two types of LPA:
Try to avoid problems and possible upset in your wider family by explaining why you have chosen a particular person to be your attorney well in advance of you actually needing them.
It can also be a good idea to arrange, for example, for your attorney to circulate bank statements regularly amongst your family so it is clear to everyone exactly what is going on with your finances.
You may also wish to consider appointing more than one attorney in case one is unable to act for any reason.
Take time to think what instructions and preferences you wish to put in this important document.
Read more: Lasting Powers of Attorney – what are they?
Asked to be an attorney? Making sure you get it right
Being an attorney for a family member or friend could mean making difficult decisions about that person’s finances and health and welfare, either alone or with other appointed attorneys. It can be a lot to take on so think carefully about whether you are willing and able to do this if the need arises.
If the answer is yes, make sure you are fully aware of your role and responsibilities and what you can and can’t do.
Confusion and ignorance are the main reasons attorneys inadvertently make mistakes. So it’s important to be up to date:
Out of the blue problems – when there is no LPA in place
Sometimes, problems arise unexpectedly – perhaps through the sudden onset of an illness like a stroke or dementia – without enough time for an attorney to be appointed beforehand.
When this happens, a deputy can be appointed by the Court of Protection to be legally responsible for that person. This is usually a friend or family member but can be picked from a special team of professional deputies by the Court if no-one else is willing or able to step in.
Deputy checklist – what you need to know:
Read more: Court of Protection – what you need to know