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Lasting Power of Attorney warning

People looking at making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to plan for the unexpected in later life should take proper legal advice.

The warning comes as a senior, retired Court of Protection judge spoke out about the deficiencies of LPAs because of the lack of safeguards in the system. The judge, Denzil Lush, even reportedly said he would never sign an LPA himself.

LPAs are commonly used to let an individual appoint one or more people to make decisions on their behalf in case they have an accident or illness and can’t do so themselves.

There are two types of LPA, covering health and welfare, and property and financial affairs. Last year almost 650,000 applications were made to register an LPA.

According to Mr Lush, the popularity of LPAs has been the result of a campaign by bodies including the Ministry of Justice, and he would rather have a court appointed deputy looking after his affairs.

However, Georgina Smith, solicitor in the Wills & Estate Planning team at Napthens, said while Mr Lush makes some strong points, the advantages of an LPA can be far-reaching.

She explained: “Great work has been done by groups including the Alzheimer’s Society to raise awareness of the issues raised by those living with dementia in everyday life. LPAs are a response to some of these extremely sensitive issues and can be tremendously helpful documents.

“There is indeed more scrutiny from the outset when a deputy is involved, but this course of action can be far more distressing due to the length of time to deal with matters and the costs involved.

“There are many examples where an LPA can prove invaluable. If someone was to lose capacity it can allow a business or farm, for instance, to continue smoothly, third parties can be paid, stock purchased and business accounts accessed.

“Finances at home can be addressed and most importantly the individual involved can decide how they would like to be cared for, and their views can be taken into consideration.

“Every situation is different, and anyone considering making an LPA should take professional advice so they can fully understand the importance of appointing the right people and providing guidance where needed.”

If you would like further information on LPAs, then please get in touch with a member of the Wills & Estate planning team.

Georgina Smith, Wills & Estate Planning Solicitor