The UK’s population is ageing at a rapid rate. A recent study by Age UK reported that by 2040, nearly one in four people in the UK (24.2%) would be aged 65 or over.
Concurrently, the number of people suffering from diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s is also on the rise. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, one in six people over 80 have dementia, a figure that is only set to increase as people live longer.
Against the backdrop of these figures, people in the UK are increasingly being urged to consider putting Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) in place.
There are many reasons why Lasting Powers of Attorney are a sensible idea. Here we give our top 5 reasons.
#1 Choose who you want to control your financial affairs and make decisions about your welfare.
Taking the time to put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place means you can choose who you want to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are no longer able to. A Lasting Power of Attorney can relate to your financial affairs or your health and well-being, or you can elect to cover both. In any event, it is essential you choose someone you trust and someone you feel would be able to make decisions as per your wishes.
If you do not make a Lasting Power of Attorney, then in the event you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions, an application must be made to the Court for a Deputy to be appointed. In this eventuality, you will have no say as to who is chosen as your appointed Deputy.
#2 It’s quick and straightforward.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is valid as soon as it is completed and can be used once it is registered with the Office of Public Guardian. If necessary, your attorneys can make decisions regarding property, assets or financial affairs whilst you still have capacity. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare can only be used once you lack capacity, but provided it is in place beforehand (again by registering it with the Office of Public Guardian), it can be used as soon as it is required.
#3 Make it easier for your family.
Seeing a family member lose mental capacity is upsetting in any event but having to try and navigate complex legal procedures, such as making an application to the Court of Protection, can be extremely difficult to deal with. Once an application has been sent to the Court it can take 2 or 3 months for someone to be appointed as Deputy, leaving a significant gap where your family may not be able to access your accounts or make important decisions. Having Lasting Powers of Attorney gives both you and your family the reassurance that everything is in place should you need someone else to take over your decision-making.
#4 It’s more cost effective.
Once the Lasting Powers of Attorney is in place then there will be no ongoing need for your attorneys to report to the Court or pay any ongoing fees. However, if you need to go down the route of having a Deputy appointed because you did not have a Lasting Power of Attorney, then your Deputy will be required to provide a report to the Court on an annual basis and there will be an annual Court fee.
#5 Be prepared for any eventuality.
LPA’s tends to be associated with losing capacity due to age-related diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. However, there are many other events that could result in you losing capacity, such as a serious head injury, that could happen at any age. Having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place means you are prepared for any such unexpected event.
If you have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, you should review this regularly to ensure that it is up to date.
For further advice or assistance on Lasting Powers of Attorney or to seek advice in this area in relation to yourself or a family member, please contact Rebecca on 01457 761320 or email Rebecca@odonnellsolicitors.co.uk.
Rebecca O’Donnell is Head of Private Clients at O’Donnell Solicitors.