Comments by a retired senior judge over the summer have highlighted the need to make very careful decisions when it comes to setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). The comments from Denzil Lush, who was the senior judge in the UK Court of Protection until last July, show just how important it is to ensure that an LPA is properly set up in the hands of someone you trust.
The increased popularity of the LPA
An LPA is a legal document that enables someone else to make important decisions on your behalf. It has been used as a safeguard by many people who are entering a stage in life when there could be some question over mental capacity or where there is an impending threat of diseases such as dementia. 2.5 million LPAs have now been registered in the UK as they offer a way of getting help at a crucial time. As Age UK explains, “if there does come a time when you’re unable to make your own decisions, you will have lost mental capacity and someone else may need to make decisions for you.”
How to safeguard your own LPA
Like any arrangements there are some risks to using an LPA. However, many of these can be dealt with by the way the LPA is set up. If you want to ensure that your own arrangements are as safe as they can possibly be then there are some simple ways to do it.
1. Choose the right attorney. The person you choose to be your attorney is a crucial part of the process. You should ask someone you trust to take on this responsibility – perhaps someone you have known for some time. It’s worth giving them time to think about becoming an attorney before anything is signed. If they’re not 100% sure they want to do it you should find someone else. The right attorney will be someone who shares your values and beliefs, who knows you well and who is likely to have your interests at heart.
2. Consider appointing more than one attorney. You have several options when you’re looking at attorneys to appoint:
- A single attorney – one person has sole responsibility
- Joint attorneys – more than one person has responsibility and they will work together on all matters
- Joint and several attorneys – more than one person has responsibility and they can either act together or separately
3. Make your LPA earlier in life. It’s always better to make important decisions with enough time to really think about them – particularly when it comes to something like an LPA. Creating an LPA before it becomes an urgent need is a great way to ensure that its effectiveness.
4. Use a solicitor. Like a Will, an LPA will always be more comprehensive and secure when drawn up by a professional than done on a DIY basis. If you’re in any way concerned about safeguarding your LPA then it’s essential to ensure it’s handled by a solicitor.