The importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney (‘LPAs’) was highlighted in a recent Sunday Times interview with the British broadcaster, Kate Garraway, in which she discussed her husband Derek Draper’s ongoing battle with Covid-19.
Draper has been in intensive care since he was admitted to hospital in March of last year and his mental capacity continues to fluctuate. Coupled with the emotional strain of her husband’s condition, Garraway has faced the added complication of being unable to manage her husband’s financial affairs or access his bank accounts on his behalf, which could have been possible had she been appointed as his attorney under an LPA.
LPAs enable a ‘donor’ (the person making the LPA) to appoint one or more people, known as ‘attorneys’, to make decisions on their behalf. There are two types of LPA: one for property and financial affairs and one for health and care. In both cases, an attorney should be someone that the donor trusts to make important decisions about their life, such as a family member or a close friend.
LPAs can only be used once they have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (a process which takes up to 12 weeks) and, until then, attorneys have no powers to act on behalf of a donor.
Once registered, a property and financial affairs LPA allows attorneys to make decisions about matters such as operating the donor’s bank account, paying bills, and buying or selling property. A health and welfare LPA can be used by attorneys to make decisions about the type of care and medical treatment the donor receives, including life-sustaining treatment (if the donor specifically permits this in the LPA), and daily matters such as the donor’s diet.
For someone in Garraway’s position, where a loved one has lost capacity without having made an LPA, the only option is to make a Deputyship application to the Court of Protection, which is a more time-consuming, costly and stressful process than making an LPA.
While roughly 40% of the adult UK population has a will, the Office of the Public Guardian estimates that less than 1% has an LPA. Understandably, people tend to associate the need for an LPA with old age. However, as Garraway’s plight underlines, an LPA can act as a pre-emptive measure to protect and prepare you and those you care about should the unexpected happen.
If you are considering putting an LPA in place, please do get in touch with a member of our Private Client team for more information.