A legal expert has urged people planning for the future to seek advice on preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), as figures show the documents are more popular than ever.
According to statistics for the Family Court system, released by the Government for April to June 2015, the latest period available, there were more than 128,000 Lasting Powers of Attorney created.
The report shows this figure is ‘the highest quarterly figure since records began, and an increase of 50 per cent since the same quarter in 2014.’
LPAs are legal documents which allows a person to appoint attorneys to make decisions on their behalf should they lose mental capacity or be unable to make decisions due to, for instance, accident or illness.
Kathryn Harwood, head of Wills & Estate Planning at Napthens solicitors, reports that her team has seen high numbers of inquiries relating to the creation of LPAs, but urged people to consider both the health and welfare document as well as the more commonly-requested property and financial.
She said: “These figures are evidence of the value which people are placing in having these documents in place.
“When a person loses capacity it can happen very suddenly and without an LPA there will need to be an application to the Court of Protection which can be a complex process.
“We are seeing more interest in health and welfare LPA applications recently. People sometimes assume that if they have an LPA in place to allow an attorney to make decisions for them in terms of finances, those same people can make health-related decisions for them too. This is not the case.
“It can be very difficult for people who love you and have your best interests at heart to have a voice without a health and welfare LPA in place. Increasingly, health professionals such as managers of nursing homes are looking for a family member or close relation to be appointed an attorney of those in their care, to give clear direction should the need arise.
“This can avoid difficulties arising between family members over what should happen.”