Most people have heard of ‘power of attorney’ even though most of the population don’t get around to making one. Before 2007 we routinely prepared ‘Enduring Powers of Attorney’ and over more recent years we have helped many clients to make and register ‘Lasting Powers of Attorney’ in relation to financial decisions and health and care decisions. Often this will be alongside making a Will, but not always.
The standard government form to make both types of LPA is available for free online. A separate registration fee is payable per LPA. As a result and quite understandably, the trend to make a DIY LPA has grown. Given that it’s a standard form, requiring completion of standard personal information and some box ticking, why would anyone choose to pay a solicitor to help? Good question. The answer is about understanding and advice.
Older people can be very distrustful of the younger generation, sometimes with good cause and often without. When it is without, we are often able to talk through the individual concerns and offer appropriate additional safeguards to enable the right and sensible decision to be made and implemented. We recently helped a very capable older gentleman (aged 92) to put in place both types of LPA in favour of his two trustworthy daughters. Why did they need us? Our conversation with Dad, dressed in his suit and tie, began with his arms tightly crossed, while he told us that he knew about powers of attorney and would consider it in the future if he couldn’t manage. His daughters sat anxiously in our reception waiting for their independent and obstinate father. 45 minutes later both documents were signed and completed. Dad was reassured that no one was going to steal his money, take over, or put him in a care home, and they all skipped happily off to lunch in town – Dad’s treat. The daughters who had been tearing their hair out with worry over the last couple of years couldn’t thank us enough. It’s one good example of how we can advise and help families. It isn’t just about filling in a standard form.
Completing legal documents, even seemingly standard forms, is always more challenging when someone’s mental capacity is already beginning to fail. We have specialist training and skills to help clients in this situation. We may be working alongside medical professionals in these circumstances.
When family, financial, or personal circumstances are not entirely straightforward (i.e. one competent, trustworthy child, or competent, trustworthy adult children who get on with each other) then legal advice is essential. The potential extent of third-party influence is very significant. We give advice about security and safeguards.
If you are in business, we will advise you to make and register a Lasting Power of Attorney with your business affairs specifically in mind. It is essential so that your business can function if you become unable to. Keyman insurance is well understood and common place, and a Business LPA is equally important and far less expensive. Business owners should always take specific legal advice.
And finally for this page, it’s a simple thing, but if you tick the wrong box, or omit an essential additional instruction, it can make all the difference.