A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), formerly known as an Enduring Power of Attorney, is a legal document that allows a person (the Donor) to appoint a person to make decisions on their behalf when they do not have the capacity to do so themselves. According to statistics released by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) LPA’s are on the increase, with 600,000 applications made to register a LPA last year, with 440,000 the year before.
There are two types of LPA, the first covering financial decisions and the second covering health and welfare decisions. The donor can opt for a financial LPA to take effect as soon as it is registered. Health and welfare LPA’s only come into effect once the donor lacks the capacity to make the decision themselves.
Once registered with the Office of the Public Guardian a financial LPA allows the Attorney to make decisions in respect of any financial decision, including withdrawing sums of cash from a bank account and spending the funds.
Last month, a retired senior judge of the Court of Protection, Denzil Lush, said that appointing a financial LPA is putting donors at risk of exploitation from those who are appointed as an Attorney. Mr Lush said there was a “lack of transparency and accountability in attorneyships”.
Some experts are concerned that the comments made by Mr Lush may deter individuals from appointing a LPA for financial decisions – so, should you appoint a financial LPA?
Appointing a financial LPA is very attractive to some individuals as it reassures them that someone will be able to make decisions for them if they can’t. Financial LPA’s are also helpful to a person who may still have capacity to make a decision but is physically unable to go to the bank to carry out transactions. In addition, LPA’s are inexpensive, with the OPG registration fee only £82 per application. Appointing a LPA also means that there shouldn’t be any need for someone to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a financial deputy, which is often time consuming and costly (the court fee alone is £400.00).
An important factor that may deter a person from appointing a financial LPA is that they are entrusting the Attorney to make financial decisions that is right for them. Although an Attorney should make decisions that are in the donor’s best interest, there is some concern that some Attorneys take advantage of their appointment and financially abuse the donor.
The bottom line is that it is imperative that you only appoint an Attorney that you know well and trust implicitly. You should never feel under pressure by a family member or friend to appoint them – you should only do what is right for you.
Appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney can be straight forward, so long as you complete the forms correctly. If you are thinking about appointing a LPA and would like advice on doing so, we have a specialist team, headed by Partner, Cliff Veitch, who will be happy to help, call 0191 232 9547 to arrange an appointment.