The number of LPAs being submitted to the Office of the Public Guardian is continuing to grow, with 322,573 registrations in the first half of 2017, a rise of 18 per cent on the previous year.
Many have been spurred on to set up LPAs by the increasing number of people around us living with dementia and the reality that any one of us might eventually lose the ability to make key decisions regarding our life. In that situation, the majority of us would prefer that somebody we trust could step in and make those decisions for us.
According to figures from the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025 and two million by 2051. This year, 225,000 people will develop dementia, that’s one every three minutes. And while it is something that, in the main, affects older people – there are currently 40,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.
But dementia isn’t the whole story when it comes to LPAs, every year there will be people who experience accidents or sudden illnesses, which unexpectedly leave them unable to look after their affairs. Many people – particularly husbands and wives – assume they can simply take over authority of their partner’s affairs at this point, but this is not the case.
Not having an LPA in place could have very difficult consequences for a person’s close family. They may be left unable to access vital funds and no alternative but to go to court – at a time of possible enormous emotional turmoil. It is not only time consuming but can be costly too.
When clients come to us for help with writing a Will, we also advise that an LPA should be put into place at the same time. While the application can be made online, we would always suggest using a lawyer.
In a recent blog in the Financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/a518a848-81e1-11e7-94e2-c5b903247afd Lindsay Cook, co-founder of the consumer website MoneyFightClub.com explained why she took legal advice when taking out an LPA.
“We could have done it online, but we chose to spend extra for a solicitor so there could be no dispute that we were doing so while of sound mind and willingly. Solicitors’ fees are much less expensive than the initial and annual charges of the Court of Protection. Also, by involving a professional, there is someone outside the family who knows who we have appointed as attorneys. While dementia may be a slow-burn illness, a stroke or head injury can remove capacity in minutes. The trigger point for me and my husband was hearing about a woman who was unable to release funds by downsizing from her jointly-owned home after her husband had a serious stroke.”
While we’ve spoken about LPAs, you may already have an EPA set up. Until 1 October 2001, it was possible to grant two types of power of attorney – ordinary powers of attorney and enduring powers of attorney (EPAs). Unlike an ordinary power, an EPA continues to be effective after the donor loses mental capacity. Since 1 October 2007. It has not been possible to create new EPAs, but EPAs created before that date continue to be effective.
Should you have any questions regarding LPAs or making Wills, call our Private Client team on tel: 01892 515022