“People should absolutely still use Lasting Power of Attorneys, and the comments today by Denzil Lush should not belittle the protection such a system can provide to vulnerable people.
“The Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) rules, introduced in 2007, have enhanced the protection offered and ensure people are of sound mind when they set up the POA. People need to carefully choose who they appoint to act on their behalf and being open with family and friends about their wishes and intentions can help.
“People are also able to appoint more than one person to act on their behalf, where both signatures are required, which could provide greater peace of mind.
“Without a LPA in place the options are limited and loved ones need to go to court to obtain the necessary authority. A spouse, child, or professional is not able to act on their behalf without this authority, which is a common misconception.
“With the continual rise in dementia, there is a very real risk that people will be left in a vulnerable position if they don’t register a LPA. Those with dementia are particularly vulnerable to the theft or illegal use of their property, money or other valuables. A LPA can only be registered while you have mental capacity – once you’ve lost capacity it is too late.
“The concerns raised by Denzil Lush regarding the safeguards in place should act as a prompt for the Ministry of Justice to review the protections in place and perhaps a protector type role should be extended across all POAs.”
Latest POA data obtained via a Freedom of Information request:
Growth in the number of Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) registered and dispatched in the first half of 2017 increased by 18% compared to the same period last year according to figures from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) disclosed through a Freedom of Information request to Old Mutual Wealth.
While this means 2.6m LPAs are now in place, growth has slowed compared to last year which showed an annual increase of 26% between 2015 and 2016. This is a reminder that more still needs to be done to raise awareness for LPAs, especially as the number of people with dementia continues to rise.
Freedom of Information request – information received 18 July 2017 from the Office of the Public Guardian:
A Lasting Power of Attorney (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; and Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. 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 a LPA in place can cause problems for both individuals and their families if they become unable to make their own decisions.