A Lasting Power of Attorney (also known as an LPA) is a legal document that allows you to choose people you trust (called your Attorneys) to make important decisions on your behalf about your finances and health. This is essential should there ever be a time in the future when you’re unable to make these decisions for yourself.
An LPA can be used to grant someone authority to manage any finances, accounts or assets that are held by you in England or Wales.
Why is it So Important?
It’s a common misconception that someone’s spouse, children or loved ones can just automatically step in and deal with matters if they are no longer able to manage their own affairs. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Your family members and loved ones would still need to obtain legal authority to deal with your bank accounts and property, and to make decisions about your welfare.
Whilst many people believe that getting a Will in place is enough, unfortunately, for thousands of people each year, it isn’t. When they are no longer able to manage their own affairs, their family and loved ones are left with a complicated, expensive and time consuming process to navigate with the Court of Protection, called ‘Deputyship’.
When Should You Get a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A recent survey we carried out highlighted that the majority of people would want their immediate family to deal with their affairs if something like this happened*. Worryingly, despite this, only 16% of those that we asked actually have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.
Some people feel that it’s only the elderly or those of poor health who need to think about getting a Lasting Power of Attorney. This leads to people thinking that they can put it off until another day. We asked those who didn’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney why they didn’t, and a quarter responded saying that they were too young to think about it. However, each year thousands of people of all ages suffer accidents or ill health which render them no longer capable of managing their own affairs.
If something unexpected happens and there’s no Lasting Power of Attorney in place, then close friends and relatives will not automatically be able to step in.
So What’s Putting People Off?
Over half of the people that we asked said that, while they knew that it was important, they simply hadn’t got around to it yet.
Unfortunately, Lasting Powers of Attorney are widely misunderstood. People may understand the principle but not the practice. Questions crop up all the time such as, what information do I need to provide? What are my options? How much is it going to cost? How long will it take? These are all relevant questions, which almost certainly contribute to people choosing to put it off until another day.
It’s therefore important for people to be given the tools and the time that they need to gain an understanding of how a Lasting Power of Attorney works, before speaking with professionals about it. This way people will have a basic understanding of what’s involved and what will be required from them before they begin making the formal arrangements. In turn, this will equip them with the knowledge they need to take the first steps in arranging an LPA, instead of waiting until it’s too late.
Co-op’s Lasting Powers of Attorney Online Service
Because of this, we wanted to design a service that helped to empower people, not just to understand what’s involved, but also to be able to help them take the first step to getting their Lasting Power of Attorney in place. An LPA will apply in England or Wales.
With our online service, you’ll be asked a series of questions. These will prompt you to think about the decisions you’ll need to make and the information you’ll need to provide, in order for Co-op Legal Services to prepare your LPA. You can then use our online self-booking system to arrange a follow-up telephone call with one of our LPA specialists at a time that suits you. We will use this opportunity to discuss your circumstances, answer your questions and help you to get an LPA that’s right for you and your family.
* Research carried out by Atomik in May 2017 involving 2006 participants across the UK.