Why have a lasting power of attorney?

  • To gain control of finances in the event of a loved one’s loss of capacity
  • To access jointly held assets like bank accounts;
  • To give medical consents for treatments on behalf of a loved one;
  • To avoid onerous and costly applications to the Court of Protection.

 

A lasting power of attorney (LPA), allows you to set out how affairs, relating to your health and finances, should be managed, should you ever lose the (mental) capacity to do so.

Only around 1% of people in the UK have these crucial documents. I’ve a professional background in Alzheimer’s Disease myself and as co-founder of the firm, insist that Confidence Wills price checks, so as to offer high quality LPA drafting services at the lowest cost.

Legally there is no recognised ‘next of kin’ in English law (though many believe there to be). If you do not have a registered lasting power of attorney in place before you need it, the Court of Protection will take control of your affairs. Challenges to this court may absorb six figure sums and years of life.

Many do not wish to face the implications of losing mental capacity and the loss of control entailed.

Leading reasons for loss of capacity include: dementia; stroke/brain injury and mental health problems. This year in the UK, one person was diagnosed with dementia; hospitalised with brain injury or deemed lacking in capacity under the mental health act, every minute.

 

Moreover, few realise that registration and completion of such documents may take time, it is perfectly possible to move from a diagnosis of dementia to a loss of capacity more quickly than such a document can be finalised.

 

Below are two cases to which the presence and absence of LPA documents (respectively) was pivotal (details including names and dates have been changed):

In 2013 Edna registered a Health and Welfare LPA appointing her husband Reg attorney. By 2016, Alzheimer’s disease had taken hold. The condition brought with it, not only cognitive decline, but fear. Edna’s communication became muted and uncertain. Intensely private, she would whisper her wishes to her husband and no one else. Diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2018, Edna attended hospital for a key examination. Without consent from Edna, the doctor informed Reg that he was unable to proceed. In the event, Reg produced the LPA, signed 5 years earlier, and treatment continued. Latterly, Reg attributed his final 18 months with his wife of forty years, directly to the existence of that single document.

In 2016 Simon, a professional man of 38, fell off his Triumph motorcycle on the A435 south of Birmingham. His wife Julie, had supported him throughout his career. Despite postgraduate qualifications of her own, she took pride in her role as homemaker, raising their three young children. The crash left Simon in a coma for four years. In the absence of an LPA, Julie was unable to access even their joint bank account, into which she herself had paid, but for which two signatures were required.  Struggling with single parenthood and grief, the Court of Protection decided that Julie was to be paid an ‘allowance’. She was forced to explain to the authorities, each penny spent. Balancing, what amounted to, an account of her own misfortune, tore at the fabric of her fragile young family. When Simon ultimately passed away, jointly held property such as bank accounts and their house passed to Julie, her emotions were understandably chaotic, and in truth remain so.

I mean no melodrama, cases such as those of Simon and Edna, occur daily, each different, each personal. You, yourself may have experienced the upheaval of the court’s placing of an elderly loved one into a care home, followed by the enforced disposal of their assets to pay for the privilege.

The complexity in creation and registration of such documents, persists. Their low prevalence suggests that salutary lessons of cases such Simon’s and Edna’s, go unlearned.

Confidence Wills can help, we will always discuss options and costs candidly with you. Please enquire now.