At A.R.K. Lasting Powers & Wills, we meet people from all over Stevenage and north Herts. As you’d expect, we talk about their circumstances when working with them to write their Wills.
Often, the subject of Lasting Power of Attorney is discussed, (in some situations, it’s more important than a Will). There are many misconceptions about Lasting Powers of Attorney, (LPAs). These lead people to think that they are ‘covered’ should they or their loved ones become ill and lose mental capacity when actually… they’re not. Sadly, many people only realise the facts about the need for Lasting Powers of Attorney when it’s too late.
So – this is our opportunity to set the record straight!
3 Misconceptions About Needing An LPA
“I don’t think I need a Lasting Power of Attorney – because…”
…I’m too young to think about doing that – our answer is that you never know when an accident or stroke could leave you too ill to look after your own finances. LPAs are not just a good idea when you are older and worried that you may end up suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. There are many other conditions/events that can mean that mental capacity is lost. Make life easier for your family, should something unexpected happen, by making an LPA. You can appoint people you trust to help you if you suddenly became ill.
…I’m married and all my accounts are joint with my spouse – our answer is that this would make no difference at all! When somebody loses mental capacity, the medical professionals inform the Court of Protection and they immediately freeze ALL accounts belonging to the person who is ill. This includes joint accounts, which means that the person who is well won’t even be able to access their own money. It takes a special application (and the payment of a fee) before the Court of Protection will unfreeze joint accounts. All this trauma could be avoided if an LPA is in place when someone becomes ill. Also, anything that needs to happen with property that is jointly owned needs the signature of both owners. This could cause a lot of problems, but with an LPA in place there would be no problem at all as an attorney can sign as if they were the person who is ill.
…My son/daughter has access to all my accounts, they are even a cardholder – our answer to this one is that whilst this can work on an informal basis when you are well, the arrangement would not be allowed to continue if mental capacity were lost. The Court of Protection would be informed that you had lost mental capacity and all your accounts would be frozen. No-one would have access to your money until the court decides who is the right person to take over the running of your finances. So, money needed for your care or to pay your bills would be unavailable to your family until the court process is complete. This can take many months, and the cost of the application would be a lot more than the cost of making an LPA while you are well!
So, these are common ‘reasons’ we hear regularly about why it isn’t necessary for someone to make an LPA. Anyone who believes it isn’t necessary is being short sighted – you never know what’s around the corner. You might not want to pay the fee for making an LPA now in the hope that nothing happens, or that you will have warning that you are becoming ill and that you can do it then. But what if there is no warning? Your family will be really upset because you have had a serious accident, or a bad stroke. Coupled with that they will have the extremely difficult job of applying to court so that they can access your money to continue paying bills, or to buy the things you need for your care, or even to actually pay for your care.
Equally, if it is Alzheimer’s or Dementia that means mental capacity is lost, unless you act quickly when you become ill it could soon become too late to make an LPA.
What happens if I don’t set up an LPA?
Without an LPA nobody is allowed to help you without permission from the Court of Protection (CoP). They must apply to the court to be appointed as a ‘Deputy’ so they can manage your affairs.
A Deputy can regain control (with luck) inside six months. And please be aware that it is extremely unlikely that a Common Law Partner will be appointed as a Deputy (however, you CAN appoint a Common Law Partner to be an attorney on your LPA).
It is also important to note that the CoP charges a fee for appointing a Deputy, which is far more than the cost of making an LPA at the outset. The court also charges for overseeing the actions of the Deputy and will expect regular accounts and updates. Ultimately, the CoP is responsible for ensuring that the Deputy is acting in your best interests. With an LPA, the attorneys are allowed to get on with the role without being monitored as you said you would trust them to do that.
All of this hassle and upset can be avoided for your family if you make an LPA while you are well, to act almost as an insurance policy.
Why use A.R.K. Lasting Powers & Wills to arrange an LPA for you?
We will make the process simple and stress-free. You will only need to spend about 30 – 45 minutes giving us the details of the attorneys you’d like to appoint. We’ll provide one-to-one advice and support throughout the process; we’ll collect signatures from any relevant person who is present at the initial appointment, and then arrange for attorneys who are not present to sign where needed (this can often be done by post). And we’re fully qualified and authorised to sign the LPA to confirm that the person making it has the mental capacity to do so.
Our fees are vastly less than a solicitor may charge, but you will receive exactly the same document once the process is completed. The fee for the first LPA anyone makes with us is £150*
There is another type of LPA which covers health and welfare matters and gives people you trust the right to make decisions regarding your daily care if you’re too ill to do so, and allows you to specify your feelings regarding life sustaining treatment. We can give you information regarding this type of LPA as well, and if you think that it makes sense for you to have both documents the fee payable to A.R.K. will only be £250*
What do I do next?
Call A.R.K. on 01438 746977 or 07926 339934 or contact us to discuss making an LPA, or to arrange a daytime or evening appointment. We generally prefer to see people in the comfort of their own homes, but daytime office appointments can be arranged if you would prefer.
* If you decide to register your LPA immediately, the Office of the Public Guardian charges a fee of up to £82 for each LPA you are registering.