What is one of those you ask … A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a very useful document. By having one you can appoint a person or people you trust to make decisions for you regards your welfare and finances should you lose your capacity to make those decisions yourself. Losing capacity can be caused by many things such as a car crash, dementia, accident or illness.
An LPA can be set up for many things, if you lose capacity to manage your affairs someone will need legal authority to pay your outgoings, manage your bank accounts, look after your house or possibly sell it, consider your welfare needs and medical treatment. These are often thought to be legal rights of your family anyway, but it is important to realise that they are NOT. In the absence of an LPA when someone loses their capacity to manage themselves and you are trying to look after them you will have to make an application to the Court of Protection to gain these rights by being appointed a deputy. This is an expensive exercise, and often more pressingly can take around half a year, which causes great distress for all involved. If you become a deputy there are many years ahead of reporting and compliance to deal with as well as the day to day looking after of your loved one.
Simply put, it is best to have an LPA drawn up and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian to avoid needless expense and hardship.
But before you all leap to have one done you must remember LPA’s hold a danger. This is the extent to which the person appointed (attorney) can have control of your affairs. It is very important in making an LPA to consider what you want to give control of to your attorney’s and what limits of their powers you want to put in place. It is all too easy to fail to consider matters such from what time your attorney’s will be able to make use of your powers, unless properly caveated your attorney could manage your affairs from the moment your LPA is registered.
Last year the recently retired Senior Judge of the Court of Protection, Denzil Lush detailed how badly considered LPA’s can be the tools for great abuses of position. He described how a man with dementia, Mr Willett’s, with no family close by, was coerced into appointing his neighbour, Mr Blake, as his attorney. Mr Blake then proceeded to use Mr Willett’s bank account to for himself, culminating in selling Mr Willett’s house, and personal possessions such his wife’s wedding ring disappeared. While Mr Blake subsequently pleaded guilty to theft the ability to recover the sums or items was minimal.
Due to this it is very important you understand what your LPA will entail and what caveats on the actions of your attorneys should be placed in your specific circumstances. We at Marlborough Law are happy to advise on this.K