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21st December 2012

The Public Guardian would like every adult in England to consider drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney ‘LPA’… is this a sensible plan?

LPAs dramatically cut the cost of administering that individual’s finances. If person does become mentally incapacitated and does not have a signed LPA, responsibility rests with the Public Guardian, usually at the family’s request, to appoint and supervise a Deputy. This is expensive and time consuming.

However, from a practical point of view, having an LPA addresses another vital issue – that of control. Rather than letting a third party decide who and how your affairs should be run, you can decide in advance. You retain choice. In fact, the number of LPAs registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has increased significantly recently. In November alone the OPG received over 21,000 applications to register LPAs with the expectation of 225,000 and in the current financial year.

With demand for Deputies rising and resources at the OPG being spread thinly, the Public Guardian has greater impetus to assist solicitors in raising public awareness of LPAs. There are presently around 45,000 Deputies, with 6,000 further appointments annually. The only way relieve pressure on the OPG’s scarce resources is to encourage LPAs as AN ORDINARY STEP FOR EVERYBODY. Indeed, this view shared by the vast number of solicitors. The quote of the Public Guardian is particularly relevant:

“Our ambition is for every member of the adult population that is every adult over the age of 18 to be aware that the Lasting Power of Attorney is a vehicle available to them and be able to make an informed decision as to whether it is appropriate for them to have one or not”.

This is not an issue only for our ageing population. LPAs may be appropriate for those much younger, for instance, with an acquired brain injury, learning disabilities or mental illness, or those with variable capacity because of their state of health.

It is often a “life event” which prompts us to make a Will or LPA. However, we recognise these events can happen at any time such that not everyone has the mental capacity or inclination to take the next step and make the document.

As a matter of course, when taking will instructions Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP engages clients about LPAs and whether they would be an appropriate piece of legal planning. We also use other ‘trigger points’ such for the younger couple thinking about having a family or reviewing their mortgage. How they would provide for the family or pay the mortgage if there were a change of circumstances? Upon a first time house purchase we would ask how any co-owner or dependent cope with a loss of mental capacity?

A Deputyship application will usually cost between, say, £1,200 and £2,500 plus VAT, although sometimes considerably more. In addition, there is an initial court fee of £400 as well as ongoing compliance costs. In comparison, an LPA is likely to cost in the region of £400 and its registration at £400 plus VAT with a one-off court fee of £130.

What will your next step be?

For further information or an appointment please contact our WEP Team at our Uckfield Office on 01825 761555.

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