A Lasting Power of Attorney, or LPA, allows a trusted family member or friend to manage your affairs for you, in the event that you become unable to manage them yourself.
Having an LPA is usually considered a big advantage. If you should become incapacitated, your attorney will be able to step in and help you. When considering whether there are any disadvantages, it is worth also looking at the many advantages.
The advantages of a Lasting Power of Attorney
By putting an LPA in place, you can be sure that in the event you are unable to manage your affairs, your bills can still be paid and your financial concerns taken care of.
If you do not have an LPA, then your family would have to apply to the Court of Protection for the power to act on your behalf under a Deputyship Order. This is expensive, time-consuming and involves ongoing costs. It can also mean that the person dealing with your affairs is not the person you would have chosen. There could be a period of time before the order is granted when no-one is able to pay bills on your behalf, which could cause difficulties.
You can put an LPA in place both in respect of property and financial affairs and in respect of your health and welfare. You can choose different attorneys to deal with each of these aspects of your life.
The LPA in respect of your property and financial affairs can be put into effect at any time, meaning that you can give someone the power to go to the bank on your behalf or pay your bills if, for example, you find it difficult to travel.
A health and welfare LPA would not come into effect until you are unable to make decisions on your own behalf.
You can choose more than one attorney if you wish and you can also specify what powers they have and what decisions they can make on your behalf.
Potential disadvantages of a Lasting Power of Attorney
The main potential problem with an LPA is whether your attorney is trustworthy and will deal with your affairs on your behalf in the manner in which you would want them to.
It is important to consider carefully who you wish to appoint and only choose someone whom you trust implicitly. You should also ideally select someone younger than you who is more likely to be able to cope with the demands of being an attorney than someone who is of a similar age to you.
There is less scrutiny of someone who is appointed under an LPA than under a Deputyship Order. While this means that the LPA process is quicker and cheaper, it does mean that your attorney will have extensive powers to deal with your affairs without much oversight.
You need to have mental capacity at the point in time when you sign an LPA. Someone who has known you for two years or more can certify that you have mental capacity. Because this requirement has a relatively low threshold, there is a risk that someone could say you have capacity when in fact you don’t.
For this reason, it is advisable to put an LPA in place as soon as possible, and certainly well before the onset of any loss of mental acuity.