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LPAs - More important than your Will?

Could sorting your Lasting Powers of Attorney actually be more important than writing a Will? Shanaz Niazi and Judith Hurle, both Wills Executives at our West Wickham office, discuss the merits of obtaining Lasting powers of Attorney sooner rather than later.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.

This gives you more control over what happens to you if you are taken ill or are in an accident and cannot make your own decisions (you ‘lack mental capacity’). This is because if you lose mental capacity, without an LPA in place, your loved ones will need to apply through court to become a 'deputy', which can be a long and expensive process.

“Lasting Powers of Attorney are arguably more important than writing a Will due to the fact that these documents will concern your care and lifestyle whilst you are still alive.  They allow your Attorneys – whether they be family members or friends - to make decisions for you in the same way that you would have perhaps done so had you not lost capacity.” says Shanaz Niazi.

Wills Executive Judith Hurle adds “When making a Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney, clients should be aware that even though they have appointed someone to look after their financial matters they do not have to hand over responsibility to their Attorney immediately.  Clients (known as “the Donor” in the legal document) are always in control of their own financial decisions unless they request their Attorney to help them or if they lose mental capacity. A Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is slightly different – this document can only be used if you have lost mental capacity.  With this document your Attorney will be able to make decisions about your health care and how you should be looked after and even make decisions about any life-sustaining treatment decisions.”

Furthermore, Shanaz recommends that people shouldn’t delay in obtaining a LPA - “These documents should not be left until it’s too late as then a Court of Protection application will need to be made which is more time consuming and involves a lot more costs and is also not guaranteed.”

With people living longer the Office of the Public Guardian are receiving more and more of these applications. We can see that in the last year LPA registrations with the Office of the Public Guardian have increased by 13.6% compared to the previous year*. This is potentially due to a growing awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The office of National Statistics reported that in 2018, Deaths due to dementia and Alzheimer disease continued to increase and remained the leading cause of death, accounting for 12.8% of all deaths registered in England and Wales*.

Shanaz continued to say; “We recommend that in general, people over the age of 60 consider putting Lasting Powers of Attorneys in place and those that are younger, but have a family history of dementia should also put these documents in place so that they (and their families) have peace of mind should the time come, they will be taken care of by people that they trust wholeheartedly.”

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If you would like to learn more about putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, please contact our Wills & Probate team on 020 8771 5254, who will give you a free initial assessment and answer any of your questions.

About the Authors

Shanaz Niazi and Judith Hurle both work in our Wills & Probate team in our West Wickham office. They specialise in writing Wills and setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney. Both are registered Dementia Friends and are experienced in dealing with elderly client issues and later life care.

 

*LPA Registrations from July 2018 to July 2019 compared to from July 2017 to July 2018 - https://www.gov.uk/performance/lasting-power-of-attorney/

Registered Deaths summary - https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregistrationsummarytables/2018

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

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