Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPAs) present a means by which you are able to appoint someone trusted to make key decisions for you should lose the ability to do so yourself, this is called a ‘loss of capacity’ This is the broadest answer to the question ‘What do LPAs do’?
- LPAs allow you to appoint someone you trust to act on your behalf.
- They enable decisions around health and finance.
- In their absence, the court of protection’s involvement may result in great cost and delay.
LPAs can only be made while the person making them has mental capacity. They may take several months to register and useable. The length of this process leads a vast majority of people to appoint professionals to undertake creation of the documents (since errors are common and may not be detected for a long period of time).
If someone loses mental capacity (e.g. from stroke, dementia or head injury) without an LPA in place, a Deputyship must be applied for through the courts. These are much more expensive to pursue and may take more than a year to obtain. During this time, payments may continue to leave your bank accounts and key decisions around your lifestyle may be made by authorities.
There are two types of LPA: the ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA and the ‘Property and financial affairs’ LPA. These are separate documents intended to guide your attorneys in the management of health and financial matters, respectively.
Health and Welfare LPA
The ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA permits your attorney to make a range of decisions with respect to your welfare including (but not limited to) matters as critical as the delivery of ‘life sustaining treatment’. Remember, life sustaining treatment may include things you consider mundane, such as provision of asthma or diabetes medication. Crucially, these decisions encapsulate ‘consents for treatment’.
Property and Financial Affairs LPA
The ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ LPA permits your attorneys to make decisions about the management of your money and property. This might include matters such as payment of bills, collection of benefits etc.
A really important difference between the two is that the ‘Health and Welfare’ document may only be enacted when you can be shown to have lost capacity. The ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ document may apply as soon as it is registered with the authorities (this is because such documents are often used by those travelling abroad to permit management of assets domestically).
The Government has recently conducted research into these documents as part of a wider push aimed at driving uptake. Their findings are stark, (research compiled by the Office of The Public Guardian, 2019):
- While 40% of people have wills less than 1% have Lasting Powers of Attorney;
- 45% of people under 45 knew nothing of Lasting Powers of Attorney when asked;
- 33% of people over 65 develop dementia. One person is hospitalised every 90 seconds with brain injury;
- 60% of people (wrongly) believe a ‘next of kin’ would have final say if they are unable to make decisions themselves.
- 60% of people believe that if they share a joint bank account with another the other can make decisions for them legally.
- 53% of people know someone with an LPA
- 40% of people who are not interested in a LPA say they ‘do not think they will lose capacity or don’t want to tempt fate.
Put simply these documents are crucial and under used, more ominously their absence can prove catastrophic, leaving affairs in limbo for extended periods, at a time of crisis.
If you would like to discuss making these documents, please visit our website at www.confidencewills.co.uk and speak to us without obligation.