Court cases highlight need for LPAs

Almost 12,000 families a year are running up legal bills and facing delays in sorting out financial and health issues when their relatives become incapacitated, according to new research.

Over-55s financial specialist Key Retirement Solutions analysed government figures and found there had been an average of 11,848 applications a year to the Court of Protection over the past three years to appoint deputies to make financial or health decisions for incapacitated people.

Court action could be avoided through putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which enables the person making them to appoint trusted relatives or advisors to look after their financial and healthcare affairs when they no longer have mental capacity to do so.

There are two types – a property and financial affairs LPA, covering money and property matters and a health and welfare LPA covering healthcare decisions.

LPAs are becoming more popular with the number of applications growing from 80,000 a year in 2007, when they were launched, to more than 250,000 in 2013.

Without an LPA, families may need to make applications to the Court of Protection, with all costs usually taken from the estate of the person who has lost capacity. Dean Mirfin of Key Retirement Solutions said: “Applications for LPAs are growing rapidly but substantial numbers of families or friends still end up having to go to court to sort out finances and welfare issues for loved ones.

“[LPAs] should be regarded just the same as will<!–>s and be part of all people’s planning for later life and the risks of incapacity that unfortunately that brings.”

Jo Hudson, a paralegal in the Wills, Trusts and Probate department at Palmers, said: “An LPA is a useful insurance policy against a time when we can no longer make decisions for ourselves and need to pass on the responsibility for issues such as paying our bills or making healthcare decisions to people we trust.

“However, an LPA must be put in place while the person making it still has mental capacity so, although it may never be used, it is sensible to take the necessary steps at an early stage and it certainly makes sense to do so when making or updating a will. For more information, please contact us.”