What are Lasting Powers of Attorney?

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are legal documents which let an individual appoint people (known as ‘Attorneys’), to make decisions on the individual’s behalf. The power to make decisions is often reserved for when the individual has lost the mental capacity to make their own.

There are two types of LPAs that exist. The first can be made in respect of an individual’s health and welfare and allows the individual to provide for how their Attorneys should make decisions regarding matters such as medical care, life-sustaining treatment and moving into a care home. The second type relates to the individual’s property and financial affairs and typically gives the Attorneys control over the payment of bills, the sale and purchase of property and collecting any financial benefits the individual is entitled to.

Life Planning Day 2015

Despite the Office of the Public Guardian reporting that a record 229,000 LPAs were registered for the year ending 2013, the Government wants more people to protect their future health and financial interests, by making LPAs.

The Government aims to achieve this by promoting the benefits of having LPAs in place as part of a recently announced national ‘Life Planning Day’ to take place in 2015. The Government’s thought process for having a day dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits of LPAs as well as other life planning mechanisms such as Will making, has come about as a response to a House of Lords report on the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

As part of its response, the Government identified that many individuals make LPAs only when an immediate need has arisen, such as a health crisis. Much like Will making, it is something which individuals choose to ‘put off’ until a later stage in their life. The problem with delaying the making of LPAs is that it can often be too late if the individual making them is already considered to have lost the requisite mental capacity.

What happens when Lasting Powers of Attorney are not in place?

Where mental capacity has already been lost, the only way an individual can ensure that trusted friends/family/professionals are managing their health and financial interests to their best interests involves making an application to the Court of Protection to have someone appointed as the individual’s deputy. This process is typically more expensive, complex and time consuming in comparison to having pre-registered LPAs in place.

It is clear therefore, that by following the Government’s initiative and making LPAs, individuals are likely to save their loved ones considerable hassle, by choosing to protect their health and financial interests whilst still having mental capacity.

If you require further information about this topic please contact a member of our Private Client team.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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