53% of us didn’t Realise We Needed It….Will you?

18 July 2017

Will you need a Lasting Power of Attorney? Because over half of the people we asked didn’t realise they did, with 32% saying they assumed their family would just take over their affairs if they lost mental capacity*.

Another 20% said they’d either never heard of a Lasting Power of Attorney before or don’t really understand what one is. So first things first – what exactly is a Lasting Power of Attorney, and why would you even need one?

A Lasting Power of Attorney, or ‘LPA’, is a legal document that lets you choose people you trust to make decisions on your behalf. Normally it only gets used if you become unable to make decisions yourself, perhaps through illness or old age.

Although it might seem too far-fetched to imagine now, lots of us will sadly find ourselves in a similar situation. This year in the UK someone is expected to develop dementia every three minutes, so it’s likely that you’ll either be directly affected, or know someone who is.

If you do become unable to make decisions for yourself, it’s likely to be a huge relief for your family if you’ve made a Lasting Power of Attorney, as there will be a designated person (or group of people) who can start managing your affairs straightaway.

If you haven’t put these sort of plans in place, your loved ones could lose control over what happens to you, and the family assets. This is because legally, your family members have no automatic right to manage your affairs.

This will be news to many, and as our research showed, there’s a common assumption that family can take step in and take control as soon as it’s needed. But this isn’t true, as the law in England & Wales simply doesn’t work like that.

Instead your loved ones would need to apply to the Court for something called a ‘Deputyship Order’. Compared to putting an LPA in place, this is longer and much more complicated to obtain (not to mention much more expensive).

There’s also no guarantee that the Court will award the Deputyship Order, or that it will be given to the person you would have chosen. This could lead to your affairs being managed by someone you don’t really know and trust or it could lead to a falling out between family members if the application for Deputyship is contested.

This could be potentially devastating for your family, yet despite this just 16% of the people we asked had put an LPA in place. Interestingly, 72% of people had expressed wishes to their family members, but this won’t count for much in the eyes of the law unless it’s been formally recorded in an LPA.

So, will you need an LPA? It’s a difficult question to answer, since none us knows what the future will bring. Of those we asked, 27% felt they were too young to think about it, yet the fact that 1 million of us will be living with dementia by 2025 isn’t something that should be ignored.

*Research carried out by Atomik in May 2017 involving 2006 participants across the UK.

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