Power of Attorney – the case for and against

Setting up a trusted family member or friend with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) ensures that someone else is able to make important decisions for you when you’re no longer in a position to be able to make them for yourself. But this in itself is always going to be a key decision in your life, so it’s important to consider the benefits and risks before going ahead with giving another person the authority LPA unlocks.

LPAs come in two types: one covering money and property, and the other covering health and welfare. On average, a lawyer will charge £400 to file an LPA, with the cost rising to £600 to file both types of LPA at the same time. There is also an £82 registration fee for each application.

It is possible to make an application yourself, and this can be done online. However, it’s strongly recommended to apply through a solicitor to ensure no mistakes are made and that the person in question is not being put under pressure to do something they don’t understand or want to do. It’s also possible to appoint more than one person through an LPA for added protection, meaning that both people will need to provide signatures in order to make any decisions.

Without an LPA in place, anyone wishing to gain authority over your affairs once you’re unable to act for yourself will face a drawn-out court process no matter who they are. Whilst this protects you in some ways, it can also leave you in a position of vulnerability if nobody is able to make decisions for you, if you’re suffering from a mentally degenerative condition such as dementia.

The current system has come under criticism following recent statistics showing that the number of investigations into attorneys – that is, the people who are given control over the decisions – has increased to 1,058 in 2016, a rise of 20% from 2015 and almost double the amount seen in 2013. Whilst the rise may be in part due to the increasing number of dementia sufferers in the UK, it also highlights the importance of applying for an LPA in the proper way and only nominating a person, or preferably people, you know you can trust.

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