Lasting powers of attorney (LPA) are tools for appointing trusted people to make decisions about your finances and welfare if you lose mental capacity and are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Some people who are considering LPAs express concern about what controls are in place to prevent their attorney from accessing savings or assets for their own ends.
These fears have been fuelled by recent cases highlighted in the media where neighbours and family members appointed as attorneys have abused that position, or, in some cases, jointly appointed siblings have squabbled over how best to look after their parents’ needs.
It is worth stressing that these kinds of incidents are extremely rare and in the vast majority of cases LPAs are valuable tools, which work well and allow important decisions to be made on your behalf.
Without an LPA, family members would need to apply for a court order from the Court of Protection and the court would decide who should manage your affairs by appointing a Deputy. This process can be costly, time-consuming and stressful and is definitely best avoided if possible.
LPAs are without doubt the safest and most sensible choice, but there are steps that you can take to minimise any risk of abuse:
- Choose attorneys who you completely trust to act with integrity at all times. It might sound obvious, but people can feel obliged to choose a particular person, perhaps a son or daughter, despite the fact that they might not actually be the best choice.
- If you are worried about the suitability of family and friends, you can appoint a professional attorney, such as a solicitor, who might be better placed to be impartial.
- Your LPA gives you the opportunity to state exactly how much authority you wish to grant over aspects of your finances. For example, you might only want your attorney to look after your shares or investment properties.
- Get advice from a solicitor. You can arrange your own LPA by paying a small fee to the Office of the Public Guardian. However, there are clear
advantages to engaging a solicitor to do this for you:
- your solicitor will talk to you in detail about your choice of attorney and their suitability for the role;
- a solicitor will assess your mental capacity to ensure you are not being pressured into making an LPA;
- they will help you to define exactly what you want your attorney to have authority over;
- they will make sure the application is correctly completed with no errors; and
- if your affairs are complex, for example you have business assets, your solicitor can ensure all assets are suitably protected by drafting a specific LPA for your business interests along with giving guidance about whether shareholder agreements and memorandums and articles of association need to be reviewed to permit delegation.
If you have any questions about Lasting Powers of Attorney, phone 01782 205000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org