More than 2 million Lasting Power of Attorney registrations will have been filed by the end of 2016, with the number of appointments more than trebling between 2010 and 2015.
The figures from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) were disclosed through a Freedom of Information request by wealth management firm, Old Mutual Wealth*.
An LPA is used to delegate power to someone to manage an individual’s personal and/or welfare affairs in the event that they become mentally incapacitated.
There are two types: Property & Financial Lasting Power of Attorneys (P&F LPA); and Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (H&W LPA). Registering an LPA covering either or both of these areas means that someone gives a trusted friend, family member, solicitor or other individual the responsibility for managing their affairs if they become mentally incapacitated.
Not having an LPA in place can cause problems for both individuals and their families if they become unable to make their own decisions. In 2014 the OPG published a paper exploring ways to encourage the public to apply for LPAs to ensure people have ‘involvement and a say as to how they wish to have either their financial affairs or wellbeing taken care of before any potential loss of mental capacity’ and to avoid the ‘difficult, time-consuming and costly court and monitoring processes that appointing a deputy requires’.
LPAs were introduced in 2007, following concerns around potential ‘abuse’ of the existing Enduring Powers of Attorney process. In recent years there has been a marked increase in the number of LPAs registered. In 2010, a total of 128,745 LPAs were registered with the OPG. But this figure more than trebled by 2015 to 441,461.
The data, collected in July this year, shows a total of 1.4m Property & Financial Lasting Power of Attorneys (P&F LPA) have been registered.
And nearly 600,000 people had registered a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (H&W LPA) up to July 25 this year. It means well over 2 million powers will have been registered by the end of 2016.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday released data showing Dementia and Alzheimer disease has become the most common cause of death in the UK.
The ONS data highlight the growing prevalence of mental health issues, particularly those associated with old age. The figures from the OPG illustrate that the public are taking note, with significant growth in the number of people making provision for the possibility they may not be able to manage all their affairs in the future.
Interestingly, the average age of those registering a LPA (known as ‘donors’) has fallen from 79 in 2008 to 75 in 2015. It suggests that as awareness of mental health conditions increases, people are become increasingly inclined to prepare earlier in life.
Old Mutual Wealth financial planning expert, Rachael Griffin, says:
“Building a financial plan does not have to be only about investing for the future. The most detailed financial planning goes hand-in-hand with your life planning and appointing an attorney through a Lasting Power of Attorney is a great way to ensure management of your personal affairs is factored in to your financial preparations for retirement and later life.
“The data shows that hundreds of thousands of people every year are now putting in place a power of attorney, delegating responsibility for their health or financial decisions to a trusted friend or relative in case they become mentally incapacitated in later life.
“It is good to see that so many people are aware of the challenges that mental incapacity can present and are planning ahead, particularly as age-related mental illness becomes a more prevalent issue in our society. But there are still many more people who don’t appoint a power of attorney. It is a simple process and gives you the peace of mind and confidence that someone you trust will be able to step in if you’re not able to take care of your financial or welfare decisions. Although it is possible for someone to take control of your financial or welfare decisions after an individual is becomes mentally incapable this can be a lengthy and complicated process with extra cost, which can cause distress at an already difficult time.”
“Talking to your parents or other family members about this is a delicate issue. And it is all too easy to take it for granted that you will always be in a position to manage your own affairs. But mental incapacity is something that affects millions of people and, by planning ahead, it is possible to confront the matter head-on, giving both you and your family some certainty over the future management of your financial affairs, welfare decisions, or both.”
*Data collected under the Freedom of Information Act from the Office for the Public Guardian. The total number of LPAs registered is up to July 25 2016. Data on the average age of donors is up to October 11 2016: