Why Lasting Power of Attorney is essential
Our lawyer friends regularly tell us about problems and costs that have arisen because someone did not register a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Here are details of one such case.
Mrs A had a stroke at the age of 80. She had not registered an LPA. The consultant at the hospital said she did not have the capacity to make decisions, and she was in care there for some time, but after seven months she was discharged to a residential care home in the South West where fees are £900 per week. The fees have consumed all her and her children’s available cash resources.
Mrs A owns a house worth £200,000 but it cannot be sold because she does not have the capacity to act. The family believe she has recovered and does now have mental capacity to make decisions, but they now have to make an application to the Court of Protection to establish this. For this they require a fresh assessment from the consultant who first saw her 9 months ago, which they are struggling to obtain. So far, their legal costs are in excess of £10,000.
We regularly hear similar stories. Unfortunately, the Court of Protection works slowly and with very high costs. So once it is involved people are likely to incur thousands of pounds in costs as compared with a cost of under £1,000 to set up LPAs – see below.
We therefore recommend that everyone take out LPAs. People in their fifties or sixties with older relatives need to think about how they would deal with problems if they do not have an LPA in place. Many elderly people feel reassured by having LPAs in place since they know it will lessen the burden on their families if they do require help.
How the LPA works
Lasting Power of Attorney is a document that is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian . You can then take charge of a relative’s affairs if they lose the mental or physical capacity to manage for themselves. There are two varieties, the Property and Financial Affairs LPA and the Health and Welfare LPA. The registration fee for each is currently £82. You can appoint more than one Attorney – and different attorneys for each LPA if you wish – and can do so on the basis either that they have to agree before they act or that any one of them can make a decision. Once the LPA is registered, it can be activated at any time.
If someone becomes incapable of making decisions but does not have an LPA, relatives will have to apply to the Court of Protection to have a Deputy appointed to manage their affairs. The cost of this can often be thousands of pounds.
FiveWays deals with several firms of solicitors who can help you register an LPA.