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Lasting Powers of Attorney – Room for Improvement in the Process?
A survey by Which? in November 2021 has found that there is widespread confusion about LPAs and their purpose, not only by the general public but by organisations like Banks and others in the industry.
The common misconceptions were:-
- Personal access to Bank accounts is lost once the LPA is registered
- An LPA could be registered at any time during a person’s life
The survey of 2,000 people found that only 1 in 7 people have put an LPA in place to deal with their affairs and that some who do have valid LPAs have trouble dealing with Banks, more specifically because of the Banks’ lack of understanding of the process and the power it grants to attorneys.
What is an LPA?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you (known as the Donor) to nominate one or more persons whom you trust implicitly, to deal with your financial and/or personal affairs (known as the Attorney). There are two types of LPA – one for Property & Financial Affairs and another for Health & Welfare.
When can an LPA be used?
The LPA for Property & Financial Affairs can be used whenever you feel you need assistance managing your finances (or if a time came in the future that you were unable to manage your financial affairs through mental incapacity) whereas the Health & Welfare LPA can only be used if you’ve lost mental capacity.
If you lost mental capacity and did not have an LPA in place, there would be no one with legal responsibility to access your bank accounts, deal with your property or put in place appropriate care arrangements for you, if required. Your loved ones would have to apply to the Court for a Deputyship Order to be able to look after your affairs for you.
We recommend registering the LPA as soon as you and your attorneys have signed it so they it is ready for use immediately, should it be required in the future. Registrations are currently taking around 20 weeks to be processed by the Office of the Public Guardian due to backlogs caused by the pandemic.
LPAs are lifetime documents which come to an end when you die and should not be confused with a Will which takes effect after death.
Time for Change?
A Government consultation in 2021 suggested that simplifying and modernising the LPA registration process to include digitising the system, offering a fast-track service and increasing the safeguards would be the way forward. The Office of the Public Guardian are being encouraged to improve awareness of LPAs generally.
At Band Hatton Button, we have a wealth of experience and include members of Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE). This means you can have peace of mind that you are dealing with a highly experienced and qualified team who specialise in helping with making Wills, Power of Attorneys, Attorney Support Services, Tax Planning, Administration of Estates, Trusts, Deputyship and Court of Protection related matters.
For individual advice and assistance contact our Wills, Probate and Trusts Team to find out how we can help.