Survey highlights lack of LPA knowledge

Less than a quarter (22 per cent) of people affected by dementia feel that businesses and other organisations understand Lasting Powers of Attorney.

The findings come in an Alzheimer’s Society poll of people with dementia, their carers, friends and relatives, to mark the launch on 11 February of a new booklet titled Accessing and sharing information: Acting on behalf of someone with dementia, which can be downloaded here.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which can only be made when someone still has mental capacity, enables the person putting it in place to appoint trusted people, known as attorneys, who can quickly, easily and legally step in to make decisions about their financial and property issues should they become unable to do so themselves. It is also possible to make a separate LPA, enabling attorneys to make decisions regarding health and welfare issues.

George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It is shocking that so many people feel businesses are not aware of people’s rights around Lasting Powers of Attorney.

“LPAs, in many cases, provide a crucial lifeline to maintaining independence. Our aim is that this booklet will act as a catalyst for more dementia-friendly policies across service industries.”

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com and an Alzheimer’s Society, supporter, said: “I’m 42 and I’ve set up a Lasting Power of Attorney – not because I’ve any immediate foreseeable chance of losing my faculties, but because we all need to consider the impact and risk if we did.”

“The difficulty for our loved ones in getting access to our cash, even possibly to pay for treatment, would compound the other more obvious issues. Doing it in advance doesn’t mean you’re ceding control, it means if something happens it’s far easier, cheaper and less stressful for other people to help sort out your finances or health. It’s crucial more people and more businesses understand the importance of Lasting Power of Attorney and how to work with it.”

Palmers’ partner Lee McClellan said: “An LPA is like an insurance policy – you hope you never have to use it but, if you do, it will make managing crucial aspects of your life much easier. Without an LPA, the Court of Protection will appoint a deputy to manage your financial affairs for you, a process that can take six months or more. It is extremely rare for the court to make orders in relation to health and welfare issues, often leaving the decision making in the hands of third parties such as doctors and social workers.

“Some people assume that their spouse or civil partner will automatically be able to make financial or personal welfare decisions on their behalf, without an LPA, but over-50s specialist Saga recently said it was seeing an increasing number of companies that that refuse to speak to a spouse without an LPA.

“The Palmers team can provide expert advice on putting LPAs and other measures in place for individuals’ own future security and that of their families. For more information, please contact our Older Client team.”