Consulting a solicitor for legal and estate matters is both a smart and essential step for future planning. A Lasting Power of Attorney or LPA is a legal tool that allows someone to handle your affairs if you’re unable to do so, such as financial management and healthcare decisions – and in today’s unpredictable world, it is crucial.
Emma Howlett, Head of Wills and Probate at Thomas Mansfield Solicitors, said: “Planning for the unfortunate loss of mental capacity is an uncomfortable thought but it can save you and your family thousands.”
If the worst should happen, your relatives would not be able to walk into a bank and access your money without an LPA, even if it’s to pay for your care. Instead, your loved ones would need to apply through court to become ‘deputy’, which can be a long and expensive process.
When thinking about setting up an LPA, careful preparation is vital. You can only set up a Lasting Power of Attorney when you have mental capacity – once you’ve lost capacity, it’s too late. Emma also warns that errors when completing LPA forms can have serious consequences.
30,000 applications were rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian last year due to mistakes like missing signatures, incomplete information, and improper witnessing. What’s more, it costs £82 to register an LPA, and if you make a mistake the application will be rejected and won’t be legally valid.
Emma Howlett, Head of Wills & Probate at Thomas Mansfield Solicitors, has identified some of the common mistakes when filling in LPA forms and their implications.
Common issues and how to resolve them
- Failing to include restrictions or guidance. A LPA allows you to include specific instructions, restrictions, or preferences, giving you control over how decisions are made. Neglecting to include these could mean that your attorney may make decisions you wouldn’t agree with or may prevent your attorney from carrying out your wishes.
- Contradictory requests. You might appoint attorneys to make decisions one way, but then include instructions that contradict this. For example, if you have three attorneys appointed in your LPA, and the LPA says attorneys should act ‘jointly and severally’, you can’t then include an instruction in the LPA to say that decisions are made by majority vote, as by acting jointly and severally, all the Attorneys have equal power to act and make decisions.
- Choosing the wrong attorney. The person you appoint as your attorney should be someone you trust completely, as they will have significant control over your life if you become incapacitated. Failing to properly consider who you appoint can lead to issues down the line. For example, during the cost of living crises instances of LPA abuse, where attorneys misuse their power or act against their appointee’s interests, sadly increase.
- Not understanding the different types of LPAs. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney. The Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows management of your finances and property and can be used immediately after registration. The Health and Welfare LPA covers healthcare and personal welfare decisions and only comes into effect if you lack mental capacity. Choosing the wrong type or not understanding the distinctions can lead to issues in the future.
Protecting your future with a professionally tailored LPA
While the thought of losing mental capacity is daunting, the peace of mind and security a properly executed Lasting Power of Attorney offers cannot be overstated. By setting up an LPA with professional guidance, you can ensure that your personal and financial matters will be managed according to your wishes, even if you are no longer able to make decisions yourself.
At Thomas Mansfield, the team ensures that every aspect of your LPA is prepared with precision and care, reflecting your specific needs and wishes.
Not only will this safeguard your interests, but it will also provide your loved ones with a clear and legal framework to support you, should the need arise. Remember, it’s not just about planning for the future; it’s about securing peace of mind for both you and your family today.