Are LPAs as important as a will?
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) have been in the news very prominently in recent months. Stories have hit the media in cases where the powers have been abused, which only serves to scare people from making them, but they are isolated cases and overall LPAs are vital for those with caring responsibilities for parents, other relatives or friends in later life.
There was a very relevant quotation in Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert weekly email on 2 March 2022, which is a good summary:
‘While many put them off as a struggle to discuss them, most people at least know wills are important. Yet fewer do LPAs, even though they’re probably even more crucial. Die will-less and you don’t have a say in where your assets go… Yet without an LPA, if you lose your faculties, your assets could be inaccessible just when they’re needed to help pay for your care (never mind your mortgage and other costs). Spending a few hours sorting both now could save loved ones £1,000s, as well as months of additional stress and heartache.
A recent survey by Which? suggested many people don’t understand how the power of attorney system works, are unaware of what the powers are and find the system difficult to navigate.
When discussing wills with clients, solicitors raise LPAs but they also need other advisers, accountants, investment managers and financial advisers to talk to their clients about them. Investment managers and IFAs are very good at having wills and LPAs as standing items on their agendas for client meetings which are of course usually a lot more frequent than the client’s interactions with their solicitor.
Once a client has made the decision to make LPAs, we advise having them registered at the Office of the Public Guardian immediately thereafter rather than leaving them to be registered only when they might be needed. At present the OPG is taking about 20 weeks to register and return LPAs. Having to wait for registration when they are most needed – ie organising a care home and the finances to pay for care fees – is something that can be avoided with some planning. That time when capacity is starting to slip or when care becomes an issue is not the easiest for any family or friends to deal with, but it could be made a lot easier with LPAs in place and registered.