05 May, 2019

Lasting Powers of Attorney - Common Misconceptions

A few years ago my parents, both now in their 70s, made their Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPA) after me explaining the benefits of doing so to them.  Figures show that there are record numbers of people making their LPAs, since 2013 the use of LPAs has tripled.  There were 800,400 registered LPA in 2019 compared to 273,583 recorded in 2013.  However, there are still many misconceptions around this subject. 

75% of people think that their partners or close family members can automatically make decisions for them if they’re not able to.  As next of kin, many people expect that making medical decisions or future planning for loved ones is straightforward.  Unfortunately, this is not true.  Only a LPA gives you the legal ability to give those you trust the power to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity.

LPAs allow individuals to appoint a person (attorney) they know and trust to act on their behalf in the case of loss of mental capacity.  Failure to make a LPA could result in an individual’s assets being frozen for an extended period or decision regarding welfare being made by adult social care.  There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:

  • ·        Property and finances – this gives a person authority to manage an individual’s property and finances should they lose mental capacity.  This includes matters such as managing bank accounts, paying bills, collecting benefits, managing mortgages or selling your home.

  • ·        Health and welfare – this gives a person authority to make decisions on behalf of an individual regarding their health or social care needs, should they lose mental capacity.  This includes matters such as your daily routine, medical care, choice of care home, and whether or not to have life-sustaining treatment.

Another common misconception is that it is only older people who should be considering making a LPA.  I, like the national figures, am one of the younger generations who had not made a LPA.  Despite daily advising others to do so!  A lot of my work as an Independent Social Worker involves supporting people to make their LPA or completing capacity assessments to pass to the court of protection to appoint a deputy for those who have lost capacity to make this decision. 

I finally got around to making my LPAs over the Easter weekend when I was seeing my sisters who I had asked to be my replacement attorneys.  Other relatives were also present, all aged between 20-40years, none of whom had heard of LPAs or why they would benefit from making one.  We all know that we should write a will, but too few of us know we should also consider making a LPA.

The Office of Public Guardian has recently launched the ‘your voice, your decision’ campaign to raise awareness within these generations and counter some of the common misconceptions around them.  It is not only older generations that need this security of making a LPA.  I work with many people in the unfortunate situations of suffering loss of mental capacity following head injuries as a result of road traffic accidents.  This is not something anyone envisages happening to them.  By making a LPA it puts you in control of who will make these decisions for you should you lose capacity.

The government has been campaigning to raise the profile of LPAs.  In 2017, they reduced the cost from £110 to £82.  It is worth noting that this cost is significantly lower than the fee you are required to pay if you have lost capacity and apply to the court of protection to be appointed as a deputy for a loved one. 

If you require further advice on this subject, require a Professional Certificate Provider or a mental capacity assessment for an application to the Court of Protection, please do call the Care Advice Centre on 07764480565.