Only 7% Have a Lasting Power of Attorney
19 January 2016 by Amy Burton
In a recent YouGov survey for Solicitors for the Elderly, 84% of respondents said that they would want a loved one to deal with their affairs if they were unable to. Despite this, only 7% had actually created a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Unfortunately we live in an age of data protection and red tape and unfortunately for those who have realised too late, the alternative to a Lasting Power of Attorney can be enormously expensive, time consuming and, most importantly, distressing for your family.
Lakshmi Turner, SFE’s chief executive, told the Law Gazette that “most people are completely unprepared for any event in which they lose the ability to make decisions for themselves”.
It can be a common misconception that Lasting Powers of Attorney are only useful for those who have lost, or are losing, mental capacity. This is simply not the case.
As opposed to former Enduring Powers of Attorney, new Lasting Powers of Attorney can be used by Attorneys at any point once that have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
This doesn’t mean that your Attorneys can sweep in and start taking away your control – far from it – but it does allow you to be able to ask your Attorneys to deal with certain matters on your behalf, even whilst you still have full capacity. For example, if there was a particularly complex matter that you had to deal with, that you just didn’t want to be involved in, you can request that your Attorneys deal with this on your behalf. You can still retain control of your other financial matters, but just ask your Attorneys to step in when you need them to.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are also incredibly useful tools if you were to be involved in an accident that left you unable to speak or sign documents. For example, if you were to be involved in an accident and needed to stay in hospital for a long period of time – who is going to manage your financial affairs in the outside world? With a Lasting Power of Attorney, your Attorneys can step in and assist you.
Likewise, if you were to suffer from, for example, a stroke and lost the ability to sign your name or write documents, you may need your Attorney to manage certain activities on your behalf.
Another common misconception is that your Attorneys can overrule your decision if they simply don’t agree with it. Again, this is not the case and the Office of the Public Guardian issues guidance on this matter, advising Attorneys that just because your decision may be unwise, it doesn’t mean to say that it is incorrect. If you still have the capacity to manage your affairs, then you can do so for as long as you wish and your Attorneys will have to respect this.
Ultimately your Attorneys will always be accountable for their actions and this is enforceable by law.
There is also now a second type of Lasting Power of Attorney, namely in respect of your Health & Welfare. This document looks at you as a person, rather than you as a ‘financial entity’. For example, if you were to lose the ability to consent to simple procedures, such as a tooth removal or repairing a broken bone, your Attorneys would have the legal authority to do this on your behalf.
You can also provide your Attorneys with guidance for later years, such as the wish to remain living in your home for as long as practically possible, or for your Attorneys to know your thoughts on issues such as blood transfusions and resuscitation.
Both documents are of equal importance as they cover two very different aspects of your life. The decision as to who manages your affairs for you is one that you can make now, rather than waiting until someone else has to make this decision for you.
For further information on Lasting Powers of Attorney, you can visit the new section of our website by clicking here. You will find all of our guidance sheets and pricing packages and if you have already been appointed as someone’s Attorney, you may find our guide helpful for knowing what you can and can’t do.