We hear a lot of horror stories in our line of work – so what CAN happen if you don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
Here are some true-life examples we have come across.
The possible implications of not having a Finance & Property LPA in place when a property needs to be sold:
An elderly lady called Celia and her brother, Stan, shared the family home. Unfortunately, Celia became ill with Dementia and ended up in a nursing home. Stan was then left alone in their large draughty farmhouse. Stan assumed he would be able to sell the family home and buy himself a nice little retirement flat. He was looking forward to being somewhere with some activities onsite and other residents to talk to.
However, Stan couldn’t do this because there was no Lasting Power of Attorney in place for Celia, and her Dementia was by then too far advanced for her to make one. The only option was to apply to The Court of Protection for the right to sell the home. Stan was told this could cost anything up to £6,000 and would take months, possible years, to execute – he decided not to go down that route. He has had to carry on living in the house on his own, increasingly struggling to manage.
Making an LPA whilst Celia was well enough would have enabled him to sell the property, take care of his sister’s share of the money, pay her care fees and buy himself that little flat he dreamed of.
The time it can take to get a Deputy appointed where an LPA isn’t in place:
A client called Mark who we saw recently was making LPAs himself due to the experience he was having with his Mum. She had advanced Dementia and did not have an LPA in place. To enable them to sell her property and access her savings to pay her care home fees they had to go to The Court of Protection for permission. This application has been underway with the court for over a year, and it is still at very early stages. In the meantime, nobody can access his Mum’s money – so, many bills remain unpaid and there are obviously companies chasing for their money.
The problems that can occur if an LPA for Health & Welfare hasn’t been made:
We recently had a client called Marjorie who had sensibly made an LPA for Property & Finance, but at the time she didn’t realise the importance of making one for Health & Welfare as well.
She had health problems and on one occasion she felt so bad that her daughter, Lynne, called an ambulance. By the time paramedics arrived Marjorie felt a little better and slowly started to improve while they did their checks etc. They thought that she should still go to hospital for some more tests, but Marjorie really didn’t want that to happen. She was having trouble convincing them so Lynne stepped in to reassure them that she’d stay with her Mum that night so she wouldn’t be alone, telling them ‘I have Power of Attorney’. The paramedics asked to see the LPA document and Lynne duly showed it to them. Unfortunately, it was the LPA for Property & Finance which gave Lynne no right to speak on her mother’s behalf for anything health related. The paramedics dismissed the LPA and insisted on taking Marjorie to hospital.
Marjorie doesn’t want a repeat of that trauma, so she has now made an LPA for Health & Welfare as well so that Lorraine can legally speak on her behalf in future.
And then… one of the benefits of having an LPA for Health & Welfare in place:
Susan has a Mum in a local care home with Dementia. She sometimes has a funny turn that requires her to rest and have a cup of sugary tea. Within an hour she is fine. The staff who work during the day are aware of this and know that they don’t need to call an ambulance, but the night agency staff don’t know about it and on one occasion recently they called an ambulance. Susan’s Mum was taken to hospital and instantly sent home, as she was fine by then. The paramedics were of course only doing their extremely difficult job and acted in the correct way, not knowing this was a common occurrence.
Susan has since lodged a copy of the Health & Welfare LPA prominently in the home, and they now ring her when her Mum has a turn and Susan can prevent admission to hospital if she feels it isn’t necessary. A doctor told Susan that every day in hospital sets Dementia patients back by weeks, as it distresses and confuses them so much.
A situation you might not have thought of where LPAs are a really good idea:
When a child has a disability or learning difficulties a parent or guardian can legally look after their money and talk to medical professionals on their behalf until they are 18. At that point they officially become an adult, and although things can still often be done informally, banks and medical professionals have no legal obligation to liaise with the parents or guardians.
We were asked to help in this situation by Lorraine, Mum of 25 year old Sarah, who has
Down’s Syndrome. Since Sarah turned 18 Lorraine had been having problems getting doctors to listen to her. She is the one person who truly understands her daughter’s care needs – she knows how Sarah responds and copes with things. Sarah is an independent and bright young woman, but she finds hospitals and doctors a challenge. We were able to do both types of LPA for Sarah, who has the mental capacity to say that she wanted her Mum to deal with her finances and to talk to doctors on her behalf. It took some patience and understanding to get the information and signatures we needed from Sarah to complete the LPA documents, but now her Mum can speak on Sarah’s behalf to get her the best possible care. Lorraine was so relieved that we were able to help in this difficult situation.
We find that real-life examples of circumstances where an LPA is useful, and examples of stories we have heard about situations where an LPA wasn’t in place, are very interesting to our clients. Stories such as these make them realise why they should make LPAs – even if they are on the face of it young and well. Who knows when an accident or stroke could make someone lose mental capacity!
We offer home visits locally, and our fees are extremely competitive (£175 for one LPA and £300 if both types are required). The only other fee is the court fee of up to £82 per document if registration of an LPA is required – but you may not decide to register your LPA for use immediately. Our consultant will explain all of that to you and give you the options.
Contact A R K Lasting Powers & Wills today to start the ball rolling with making an LPA. Call us on 01438 746977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org We really do strive to make the process as easy as possible!