According to recent figures, the number of registrations for Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) agreements has more than doubled to 3.85m in the last three years.
With almost 800,000 applications made within a year to April 2019, it seems people are beginning to appreciate the importance of securing their finances, should they become too ill to handle them.
Office of the Public Guardian
The figures from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) - an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice - clearly show a change in public attitude, which appears largely due to an ageing population, combined with an increased awareness and greater understanding of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
|Total deaths for 2018||541,589|
|Leading causes||Deaths||Percentage of deaths|
|Dementia and Alzheimer's||59,478||12.8|
|Ischaemic heart diseases||55,995||10.3|
|Chronic lower respiratory diseases||32,355||6|
|Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung||29,626||5.5|
Typically, family members now recognise that even though someone is physically well, they may be unable to make decisions because of an impairment of their mind or brain function.
In the eyes of the law, any such individual is said to lack capacity.
Despite this progress, there are still many people without an LPA, meaning families could find themselves locked out of a loved one’s accounts and assets should they fall ill.
|Powers of Attorney|
|Year||Number of EPAs received||Number of LPAs received||Total POAs Received|
Source: Office of the Public Guardian
There is no automatic right for a spouse, family member or even close friend to then start managing the individual’s affairs or make decisions on their behalf, despite having their best interests at heart.
Without an LPA in place, affected families could find themselves involved in a lengthy and expensive court process to be appointed their ‘Deputy’, which can be a serious issue for those families who rely on the income to help fund their loved one’s needs.
This state of potentially desperate affairs should encourage more people to take control in advance, appointing a trusted person (friend, family member or professional person), called an Attorney, to act on their behalf, if they lose the ability to make decisions about their future for their themselves.
This process is undertaken through an LPA, which is a legal document that names and registers the attorneys who will make decisions that the Donor, the subject of the LPA, may no longer be able to make.
Enduring Power of Attorney and Lasting Power of Attorney
The idea of giving power over aspects of your affairs to others, in the event you lose capacity, is not a new concept and prior to October 2007, people made Enduring Power of Attorney (EPAs).
An EPA could be used by the Attorney(s) without registration, unless in the event of incapacity, but apply only in relation to financial affairs.
However, the Attorney(s) had the obligation to register it with the OPG if the Donor was becoming or became incapable of managing their own affairs.
While no new EPA can be made or amended, any created prior to October 2007 are still valid.