When Should I Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

28 December 2015

Many of us feel uncomfortable thinking about our own mortality but interestingly we also dislike considering if there will be a time when we cannot, or do not want, to make decisions for ourselves.

This is when a Lasting Power of Attorney becomes invaluable and will allow you to feel safe in the knowledge that the person you have appointed as your Attorney, such as a trusted friend or relative, will make good decisions for you on your behalf when you cannot anymore.

The best time to make a Lasting Power of Attorney is whilst you still have the capacity to make one. Not only is it the best time, but it's also the ONLY time!

One of the features of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is that you can only make one when you are able to make decisions for yourself and that you can understand the nature and effect of the document.

Many people may not see the point of making a Lasting Power of Attorney when they are well, however, when you consider the consequences of not taking action now, you may well change your mind.

Firstly, it's easy to assume that you may only lose your mental faculties through old age. This is not always the case and any of us, at any time, could suffer an illness or be in an accident which results in us being unable to make decisions for ourselves.

Secondly, it's also easy to assume that, if something were to happen to you, your next of kin or loved ones would be able to automatically step in and deal with your affairs. However this is not the case at all.

In England and Wales, the following scenario is a very common and sorry tale:

  • Someone becomes unable to manage their affairs, through old age, illness or accident.
  • Their spouse (or children) go down to the bank and explain that they can no longer manage their affairs and so they'd like to be able to deal with matters on their behalf.
  • The bank will ask "Have you been appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney?"
  • The spouse replies "No, what is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
  • The bank says "Sorry we can't help you, you need to have a LPA"
  • The spouse then contacts a Solicitor and explains that their partner needs a LPA.
  • The Solicitor asks "Is your spouse capable of understanding the nature and effect of a LPA?"
  • The spouse replies "No"
  • The Solicitor says "Sorry, it's too late. Your spouse can't put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place and you can't do it on their behalf".

If anything happens to you which results in you losing capacity and you do not have the protection of a Lasting Power of Attorney, an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection to appoint you as a Deputy.

This is a very different process, which is much more expensive than the cost of putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place and it takes much longer too. There is also a significant administrative burden placed on the Deputy given that the Court is making the appointment and not the person whose affairs are being looked after (as would have been the case under a Lasting Power of Attorney).

Therefore, by making a Lasting Power of Attorney, you have peace of mind that you have someone you trust appointed as your Attorney to manage your affairs. However it also means that your Attorney can get on and deal with things quickly on your behalf if they need too with much less involvement from the Court.

In order to plan ahead, avoid any unnecessary problems and potentially save money too, it's best to make your Lasting Power of Attorney as soon as possible so you know you are protected.

With Co-op Legal Services, you can make a Lasting Power of Attorney from as little as £270 including VAT. Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work, that price will not change.

More articles