Greater awareness and an ageing population has driven the increase
Public awareness of the importance of lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) is growing.
The number of people registering these essential legal documents has doubled – to 3.85 million people – in just three years.
In the year to April 2019, 800,000 applications were made to the Office of the Public Guardian, according to an article on This Is Money.
Setting up LPAs
As a will-writing and legacy planning service, Maplebrook Wills can prepare LPAs for you. We’ll take care of the paperwork and register the documents with the Office of the Public Guardian on your behalf.
Lasting powers of attorney are essential legal documents. An LPA enables trusted individuals called ‘attorneys’ – often children over the 18 – to make decisions on your behalf.
Unlike wills, LPAs are used while you’re still alive. This is in the event of an accident or a condition that leaves you mentally incapacitated, like dementia.
There are two types of LPA – one that covers health and welfare and the other covering property and finance.
The health and welfare LPA enables your attorneys to make decisions about your care and wellbeing. The property and finance LPA allows them to pay essential bills using your money.
Why the increase?
So why are more people getting LPAs? As This Is Money points out:
“An aging population, greater awareness of conditions like dementia, and the trend towards people investing their pension in retirement are likely to be among factors driving the increase in people setting up power of attorney for their finances and health.”
If you don’t have LPAs in place, your relatives could find themselves in financial heartache if you were ever to lose mental capacity. The article states:
“Without a \’lasting power of attorney\’ document created in advance, families can find themselves locked out of an ailing loved one\’s finances and facing a complicated court process to be appointed their \’deputy\’, with fees running into many thousands of pounds.”
How are they used?
So what is an attorney allowed to do? There’s guidance in the STEP document “Why make a lasting power of attorney?”:
“The attorney’s powers may be restricted. And the LPA can specify that it can only come into force once you no longer have mental capacity (this applies in any case to personal welfare LPAs). The attorneys only have limited powers to make gifts of your money or property. Although the court may authorise additional giving. When making investment decisions, the attorney will need to take appropriate professional advice.”
Lasting powers of attorney in their current guise are relatively new and replaced the former EPA (enduring power of attorney). As stated on Wikipedia:
“Lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) in English law were created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and came into effect on 1 October 2007. The LPA replaced the former enduring powers of attorney (EPA) which were narrower in scope.
Their purpose is to meet the needs of those who can see a time when they will not be able – in the words of the Act, will lack capacity – to look after their own personal, financial or business affairs. The LPA allows them to make appropriate arrangements for family members or trusted friends to be authorised to make decisions on their behalf. The LPA is created and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice of the United Kingdom.”
Lasting powers of attorney can only be registered whilst someone still has mental capacity. And since it takes around three months for the OPG to register them, it’s best to get LPAs as soon as possible, even if you never use them.