10 things you MUST know about a Lasting Power of Attorney in Essex
There are 10 things you must really know about a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). A Lasting power of Attorney is a legal document that enables a person you trust (maybe a friend or family member) to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated. This person becomes your Attorney.
So what are the 10 things you really need to know about an LPA?
1. The LPA process is managed by the Ministry of Justice through the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and the Court of Protection (CoP)
2. If a person becomes incapacitated (Alzheimer's/stroke/coma etc) the Court of Protection can freeze all of their assets in order to protect the individual whilst they are considered vulnerable. This includes any bank accounts, shares, and investments with their name on.
3. Joint bank accounts can be frozen, even if the other named person on the account is capable of making decisions. This can cause the other partner huge difficulties in paying for essential things like bills, mortgage or just food money.
4. An application for an LPA after a person has been deemed incapacitated, can take upwards of 9 months in some regions of South East England and can cost over £3000 in solicitors' fees. Getting an LPA drafted in advance can save over 85% of these costs. That said, less than 134,000 people got an LPA in the last 2 years, which equates to less than 1% of the population.
5. There are 2 different types of Lasting Power of Attorney. Property and Finance and Health and Welfare
6. One LPA covers one area for one person so an individual would need two LPAs to be fully covered, and a couple would need four LPAs.
7. A Property and Finance LPA enables the attorneys access to all bank accounts immediately, to continue to manage things like household bills, mortgage payments or money for the children which would otherwise need to be unfrozen in the elongated process described in point 4.
8. A Health and Welfare LPA enables the attorneys to make choices for the incapacitated person in situations as varied as resuscitation, through to the type of care they receive and even down to the food they can eat.
9. Once an LPA has been drafted it needs to be registered with the OPG. Until the document is registered, the LPA will not become valid. This process will take at least 8 weeks.
10. Jack Straw, when he was the Minister for Justice, was quoted as saying that “if you only do two things for your estate in life, ensure you get a Will and you get Lasting Powers of Attorney”. They are that essential.
The implications of not having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place can be catastrophic. In 2015, the BBC's One Show highlighted the story of Heather Bateman. Heather's husband was in a coma for 3 years after a road traffic accident. Heather and her husband had no Lasting Powers of Attorney in place and Heather found herself suddenly unable to access the couples JOINT bank account. Heather then had to apply to the Office of the Public Guardian. Eventually, and after thousands of pounds and months of waiting, the Powers of Attorney were granted but the Office of the Public Guardian had placed restrictions on Heather, again to protect her husband's interests. Heather was only allowed to spend a maximum of £500 at a time, despite it still being their JOINT account. This meant she had to seek permission from the government, just to help pay their daughter's tuition fees at university. Unfortunately, Heather's story is not unique. Every day, thousands of people are experiencing the same things throughout Southern England.
Richard Morris is a senior consultant with The Will Associates
; a legal company set up to assist in such matters BEFORE they arise. Richard is contactable on Freephone 0800 847 7030
. Richard offers a free consultation, at your home, to discuss your needs and requirements. Don’t delay. Contact Richard today.
The Will Associates were founded in 2010 and today have over 7000 satisfied clients in England and Wales. Check out the website http://will.associates/richardm