Lasting Powers of Attorney – the reality

When it comes to ensuring that our later years are secure Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) play a crucial role. However, surprisingly, very few Brits are taking advantage of this essential document. According to research, 84% of people want family or friends to be able to make decisions for them if they become too ill, yet only 7% of people have an LPA in place.

What will an LPA enable you to do?

The LPA is basically a document that you can set up to ensure that your affairs are taken care of, whether or not you are able to do this yourself. There are two different types of LPA in the UK:

  • An LPA that covers property and financial affairs e.g. decisions that relate to your bank account, bill payments and managing any property you own or rent.
  • An LPA that covers health and welfare e.g. medical care, care plans and any end of life wishes that you have made or wish to make.

With an LPA in place, it’s possible to ensure that all angles are covered, from where you will live to what happens to your property and other assets.

What happens if you don’t have one?

The alternative can be incredibly costly. There were 6,744 applications made to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy in 2015. That’s the process that must take place if you no longer have the mental capacity to make your own decisions and you don’t have an LPA. Applications can cost thousands of pounds, and it may take 6+ months to put an arrangement in place. During that time finances and life decisions are frozen.

Can you draft your own LPA?

In theory, yes, but this presents a big risk to the validity of the document – at a time when you may not be able to do much about it. If an LPA is poorly drafted, or not in the correct form, then it may be invalid. The result is that the family of the person involved will not be able to help out with essential decisions such as financial matters, housing and care. Plus an application must still be made to appoint a deputy, requiring more expense and time commitment.

So, whether or not you’re one of the 39% of Brits with a Will, make sure you have provision for your later years with a properly drafted LPA – ideally you should have both.