A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity.
The Law Society Gazette has recently reported that the Office of the Public Guardian made 721 applications to the Court of Protection to censure or remove attorneys in 2018/19. This is an increase of 55% from the previous year’s total of 465. Do we, therefore, need to consider whether Lasting Powers of Attorney can be trusted or whether there may be better alternatives?
It has been suggested that the process of Deputyship may be a safer option for some. A Deputyship Order has an additional level of supervision by the governing body of the Office of the Public Guardian. However, an order of this nature would only be made after you have lost capacity, meaning that you do not get to choose who acts on your behalf. It is also a more expensive and protracted process.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is made when you have capacity, and puts you in control so that you may choose who will act on your behalf. The application process is ‘streamlined’ compared to that of making a Deputyship Order and the expense could be a fraction of the cost.
Like Wills, LPAs can be completed using DIY online services. However, like Wills, without the legal expertise, it may be a disastrous decision for these documents to be ‘homemade’. A homemade Lasting Power of Attorney, prepared without due diligence to the powers given under it and without due diligence as to when those powers come into effect, could be extremely dangerous.
The most important decision that you will make is who to appoint as your Attorney and how they will be authorised to undertake your affairs. By completing a Property & Financial Affairs LPA, you are giving authority for your attorney to step into your shoes and do everything with your money and property that you could do yourself. It is therefore of paramount importance that you trust the person you are appointing as your attorney.
If you find yourself asking ‘can I trust the integrity of my Attorney?’ or ‘what if my Attorney runs away with all my money?’ then you are likely appointing the wrong person to act on your behalf. Our advice is always that the decision of who to appoint as Attorney should weigh heavily on the trust which you have in that person.
At RRL Wills, we have the legal expertise to advise you fully and explain the terms and effect of Lasting Powers of Attorney to you in a way that is easy to understand.
This publication has been prepared by RRL Wills Limited. It is to be treated as a general guide only and is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law or represent specific advice. No liability is accepted for the opinions it contains, or for any errors or omissions. All rights reserved.