There are now more than four million Lasting Powers of Attorneys registered in England and Wales – evidence that a growing number of people are recognising the importance of putting this valuable legal safeguard in place.
However, Coronation Street viewers could be forgiven for thinking that appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) – a trusted person to manage your finances if you lose the capacity to do so – is a process fraught with dangers.
A current plotline sees one character, Geoff, abusing his position as an attorney to take control of his wife Yasmeen’s personal and business bank accounts for his own benefit.
This is despite the fact she still has full mental capacity and as a result, would be able to stop him in his tracks by refusing him permission to access her money and contacting the bank herself.
As many people have genuine concerns that having an LPA could leave them open to this kind of abuse, Wards Solicitors’ award-winning Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team wanted to take the opportunity to put the record straight.
An LPA, if properly drawn up by a specialist solicitor, is a positive and effective legal 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 and is why it’s so vital to plan ahead.
It’s a kind of insurance policy – hopefully you will never need it, but if you do it means your appointed attorney can make important decisions on your behalf, in your best interests and taking your views into account.
Once an LPA is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, it can be activated immediately.
This means an attorney can start making decisions on your behalf if you have lost physical or mental capacity or if you authorise them to do so. For example, it can be activated if you still have mental capacity but would merely like some help from your attorney.
Doing your LPA online and then keeping the paperwork in a drawer does carry a risk – an unscrupulous attorney could then take it to a bank and use it as evidence they have the authority to access your accounts.
At Wards Solicitors, we offer to store your original LPA safely here in the office adding an extra level of security. From then on, we will only release the LPA documentation if:
There are two types of LPA. One for property and financial affairs – the one we look at in this article – and one covering health and welfare decisions which can include end of life care.
As well as regular articles on our website, we have prepared a series of legal guides to provide more information:
For advice or further information, please contact Wards Solicitors specialist Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team.
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