Recent figures released by the Office of the Public Guardian, the government body responsible for registering lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) reveal that the number of applications to register LPAs dropped by 25% over the last year (2020/21).
This is concerning as it means that some 230,000 fewer people have not completed an LPA, leaving them without someone to look after their affairs if they lost capacity.
Losing capacity without having previously prepared an LPA leaves your affairs to the court’s jurisdiction, meaning a court would have to appoint someone to act on your behalf – it is a time-consuming and costly process.
Anyone over 18 can set up an LPA as long as they have the “mental capacity” to make the decisions involved in drawing one up. Spouses, civil partners and next-of-kin have no automatic right to look after someone’s affairs if they have lost capacity – only a validly executed LPA will guarantee that such a person can take over.
This drop in LPA registrations doesn’t just leave a potential vacuum regarding the management of a person’s finances. LPAs can relate to health, welfare, and medical treatment – does anyone really want a court deciding what medical treatment they should be receiving, if they couldn’t make that decision themselves, or even where they should be living? An LPA for health and welfare allows us to choose who we would want to make that decision for us.
But we need to prepare these LPAs in advance, not when it is too late. And this reduction in the number of LPAs being submitted for registration is concerning at a time when we know that levels of dementia-related cases are increasing.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.