Our Naivety: Lasting Power of Attorney

Millions of adults across the UK hold the dangerously misguided belief that their loved ones immediately assume the right to make day to day decisions for them should they lose the capacity to do this themselves.

According to the Office of the Public Guardian, one-third of people over 65 will develop dementia, and acquired brain injuries are seen in UK hospitals every ninety seconds. 

The prospect of losing the mental capacity to make informed decisions is understandably frightening. However, setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is an act of safekeeping that people young and old need to consider.

When you choose to set up an LPA, you ensure that the person of your choosing will manage your welfare should you ever need the assistance.  

Rampant Misconceptions

Millions of adults across the UK hold the dangerously misguided belief that their loved ones immediately assume the right to make day to day decisions for them should they lose the capacity to do this themselves. 

Research conducted by Direct Line Life Insurance illuminated some worrying statistics about this fact. It found that in 2019, 80% of British adults assumed the person they wished to take over their affairs would be able to do so without official paperwork, but unfortunately, this is not the case. 

At the same time, only 38% of respondents to the Direct Line survey knew what an LPA was. Without this knowledge, there’s no way for members of the public to make informed decisions about this crucial aspect of their lives. 

Additional research conducted as part of the public ‘Your Voice, Your Decision’ campaign further demonstrated the lack of knowledge surrounding this subject. One result showed that 72% of people thought their next of kin got to make final decisions about medical treatment should they lack the capacity to make such decisions themselves – however, this is not true either.

Ultimately, the only way of knowing the trusted nominee of your choice will be appointed to care for you is with an LPA. 

What Is an LPA?

In October 2007, the LPA replaced the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) to offer more protection to the person whose welfare is being represented. 

An LPA is a legal document nominating one or more people you choose to become your ‘attorneys.’ The people you choose are there to help you make decisions or make them on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do this yourself. 

LPAs can be set up to handle health and welfare matters, property and financial affairs, or both. Health and Welfare LPAs designate who has the right to make decisions for you about medical treatment, housing, and life support. Property and Financial Affair LPAs select the attorney(s) in charge of the care of money, property assets, and bill payments. 

Without an LPA, the Court of Protection appoints a deputy to manage these matters on your behalf instead. This could be a friend, family member, or an unknown professional (such as an attorney) but won’t necessarily be someone you would choose. Interpersonal relationships are complex, and the Court of Protection will not be aware of your personal circumstances, so your deputy could potentially be someone you currently deem to be completely unsuitable.

An LPA allows you to decide for yourself who you trust most with this responsibility and who will keep your interests a priority. 

Less than 1% of the UK population has an LPA (Office of the Public Guardian). 

Why Set Up an LPA Now?

Taking out an LPA  ensures that you’re able to decide who manages your affairs with a clear mind. It’s always best not to leave these things too late, and no one should leave who takes care of them to chance. 

Not having an LPA means the local authorities make this decision should you be incapacitated – meaning the choice is no longer yours.

If you need help setting up an LPA, The Planning Bee can offer legal advice and assistance to guide you through this process. Setting up your nominee(s) will not take long and makes all the difference should they be needed. 

Contact The Planning Bee for help using our simple online form, and we will get back to you directly and arrange a consultation with a specialist paralegal. 

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