Why are lasting powers of attorney important?

  • Without them the authorities may place you in residential care
  • Decisions about how to spend your money could be made for you
  • The cost to your loved ones of gaining control may run to six figures
  • Many lose capacity FASTER than they are able to implement a document
  • Less than 1% of people have a lasting power of attorney in place
  • Confidence Wills offer one of the lowest cost routes to this set of documents

 

Lasting power of attorney documents (LPAs) allow you to name a third party to take control of your affairs should you lose the capacity to do so. Those you name are your ‘attorneys’ – you are known as the ‘donor’ with respect to an LPA. Attorneys owe a duty of care to the donor and are usually individuals you trust to take good care of you such as family members, though a professional firm may be appointed.

Briefly there are two forms of Lasting Power of Attorney: a ‘health and welfare’ LPA and a ‘property and financial affairs’ LPA. The former allows your attorney to make decisions regarding your (life sustaining) health care and wellbeing, the latter, on financial affairs. Crucially, both must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. I have described the form and effect of such documents in greater detail in earlier articles.

Unfortunately, it is estimated that only around 1% of people in the UK have an LPA in place. This statistic is troubling, since an estimated 1 person per minute suffers some condition resulting in potential loss of capacity e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke, critical mental health issue.

There are misconceptions around the need for such a document, allow me to clarify a few of the more significant. Firstly, there is no pre-existing law permitting next of kin or spouses to make health decisions on behalf of those losing capacity. The ONLY way to assign someone to such tasks is by their having an LPA in place or having someone authorised to do so by the court of protection.

An application to have a deputy appointed AFTER someone has lost capacity can cost more than £150,000 in solicitor’s fees. This process can take up to 6 months. Even if successful, paralysis in procession of your affairs may prove catastrophic. Moreover, critical decisions like moving into (and paying for) residential care may be taken for you. An LPA avoids this cost and heartache.

Having worked with Alzheimer’s sufferers, I’m all too aware that it is often the superficially ‘sharpest’ who decline quickly. It was, in fact, a related observation that underpinned the formation of Confidence Wills. Few realise that is perfectly possible for dementia to cause loss of capacity in a shorter time than it takes to secure and implement an LPA (BMA).

The costs associated with preparation of such documents vary. Whilst it is possible to prepare such documents on a DIY basis, there is a relatively high risk of error. Market research conducted by Confidence Wills indicates prices, for support in the creation of documents, from solicitors and large will service companies/cooperatives in the £200-£500 per document range, i.e. £400- £1000 for both health and financial LPAs (for one person). For the avoidance of doubt, these prices capture face to face, over the phone and online services.

Critically, a lasting power of attorney MUST be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian for it to be valid, there is a fee associated with this (£82 at present for each document, so £164 for both health and welfare documents).

Whilst costs are material, the (financial and emotional) cost of failing to take such action may be inestimable. Owing to our particular history, Confidence Wills emphasises the importance of such documents, and offers a face to face service at prices below the range described above.

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