Lasting Power of Attorney: More Important Than A Will?

 

Lasting Power of Attorney: More Important Than A Will?

Is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) more important than a Will? This was the question posed by Martin Lewis on a recent episode of ITV’s The Martin Lewis Money Show Live (14 March 2023).

There is certainly an argument that it is. As Lewis pointed out, if you die without a Will, your money is going to be passed on to other people. Even if those people are not necessarily the ones you would want to benefit from your money, you are not going to use it.

However, if you lose mental capacity and are no longer able to make decisions for yourself, there is a chance that, without an LPA, your family won’t be able to access your money, even if it’s the money needed to pay for your care.

Martin Lewis went on to hear a story from one viewer that highlighted this point. As Bridget told the ITV show: “My father was suffering with dementia when my mother died. She did everything, and he was lost.

“One day, he didn’t know his ATM pin, got flustered, and the bank suspended his account. He was unable to do anything. We applied to the Court of Protection, and it’s horrendously expensive and extremely slow. He died before we got anywhere, so make sure a Power of Attorney is in place.”

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

While most people know what a Will is, far fewer understand the purpose of an LPA, and fewer still have one set up.

An LPA is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you if you’re no longer able to, for example, if you’re diagnosed with dementia and you lose mental capacity.

There are two kinds of LPA: one that governs decisions relating to property and financial affairs and another to cover health and welfare. People can choose to make one type or both. You can also get an Ordinary Power of Attorney, which covers decisions about your finances and is designed for use on a temporary basis, for example, if you are in hospital and need help paying your bills.

LPAs are an extremely powerful tool; you’re giving someone the power to manage your finances if you’re not able to. However, the key point is the word ‘IF’. LPAs only come into effect ‘if’ you need them to. They are a way of future-proofing your finances, a tool to protect the future ‘you’.

Checks and Balances

Perhaps one of the reasons LPAs are underused is that people are put off by the horror stories that sometimes run in the press. Tales of ill-meaning attorneys abusing their positions by taking decisions that are not in a person’s best interests can certainly make you more cautious about the intended benefits.

However, there are also certain restrictions you can choose to put in place to minimise any risk of abuse, such as an attorney having to notify someone when they’re going to trigger the power of attorney, or appointing more than one attorney to make decisions for you.

Martin Lewis has included such safeguards in his own Power of Attorney. “I have that. I have my Power of Attorney set up, and then I have two totally separate, independent people who would be notified if they were going to use the Power of Attorney who would then have the responsibility to raise objections if they felt that I hadn’t lost my faculties, or it wasn’t sensible to be done.”

For any cases that may fall through the cracks, concerned parties can also make a report to the Office of the Public Guardian who will investigate further.

Will or LPA?

So, is Martin Lewis right, is an LPA more important than a Will?

Both Wills and LPAs are important legal documents, and everyone should have both of them.

Well – what did you expect? We’re solicitors, after all. Choosing between an LPA and a Will is like asking us to choose a favourite among our children…

To watch the full clip of Martin Lewis discussing LPAs on ITV’s The Martin Lewis Money Show Live, please click here.

Key takeaway points:

  • You are never too young to make an LPA. Anyone over the age of 18 who has mental capacity can make one.
  • You can have one person as a Power of Attorney or several.
  • There are controls you can put in place if you are worried someone is acting in bad faith.
  • The best place to get an LPA is through a solicitor.

Lasting Power of Attorney Solicitor

If you want more information about Lasting Powers of Attorney or any other aspect of estate planning, Bookers & Bolton are here to help.

To speak to one of our friendly Private Client lawyers, please call 01420 558 290 or email enquiries@bookersandbolton.co.uk, and one of our team will get back to you.

 

 
 
 

 

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