- A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint one or more people to make decisions on your behalf should there come a time when you are unable to do so yourself.
- There are two types of LPA: one for financial matters and one for health and welfare.
- Over 670,000 LPA applications were received in 2020.
- Research from Which? shows there is widespread confusion about the process. For instance, 16% of people thought they would lose access to their financial accounts as soon as an LPA is registered.
- If no LPA is in place and you lose mental capacity, your loved ones will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become a deputy if they want to make decisions on your behalf. This is a costly and complex process.
Which? has released research showing the power of attorney system is in need of improvement.
Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) should be a huge source of comfort as we get older, but for far too many people, it’s a source of mistrust and confusion instead.
Knowing you have someone you can trust to take decisions in your best interests in the event you are unwilling or unable to do so yourself can be very comforting not just for you but your wider family too. Unfortunately, we’re letting myths and misunderstandings confuse us into missing out on this vital bit of safeguarding.
It’s important to bust key myths about LPAs. For instance, you do not hand over control of your affairs once an LPA has been registered – you remain in control and your attorneys must make all reasonable efforts to help you make decisions. Should a time come when decisions need to be made on your behalf your attorneys need to demonstrate they are making decisions in your best interests and in line with your wishes. You can appoint more than one attorney if you want more visibility of decision making and attorneys can be removed if needed.
People tend to worry about rare horror stories of vulnerable people befriended by fraudsters who use a power of attorney to take their money. However, a power of attorney can actually protect you from this kind of thing. Some conditions, like dementia, can make it difficult for people to understand who to trust or the consequences of their actions, so putting someone reliable in charge of their financial decisions protects them from giving it away to fraudsters or con artists.
If you are having health issues, then knowing you have an LPA in place can take away an enormous amount of stress at a difficult time – they are not something to be mistrustful of.
But they’re not something to leave until later in life. We should consider putting one in place when we draw up a will. Often, we have no warnings of when we might lose the capacity to make financial decisions, so the sooner you draw up an LPA, the sooner you’ll be protected.”