Applications for power of attorney have doubled to 3,850,000 in the last three years, allowing more people to take control of loved one’s affairs in the event of ill health.
In excess of 800,000 applications were made in the first four months of 2019, according to official data from the Office of the Public Guardian, which is a part of the Ministry of Justice.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows individuals to appoint a trusted family member, friend or a professional adviser to make decisions for them should they lose the capacity to make these decisions for themselves.
There are two types of LPA, one that is set up in respect of personal health and welfare, and one that is set up in respect of property and financial affairs, or you can set up both. When appointing an LPA, an individual appoints one or more attorney, as well as replacement attorneys.
Experts have warned that while the number of applications has risen significantly, this is still only a proportion of the people who require an LPA.
If an individual does not have a power of attorney and loses the mental capacity to handle their affairs, whether that is welfare or financial, a deputy is then appointed to manage their affairs. This decision is taken by the court, not the individual.
The deputyship route can be a complicated process and could result in somebody being appointed that may not suit the needs of the individual.
Tim Steele is a Partner with Palmers, who specialises in Lasting Powers of Attorney and legal matters relating to older clients. He said: “An LPA can be a positive and effective legal tool, which ensures your wishes are respected should you ever lose capacity.
“However, it is important to seek professional advice when considering creating powerful legal documents of this nature.”
For further information about putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney, please contact us.