By Elaine Lightfoot,
Head of Private Client,
Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice in September 2015 confirmed the continued rise in the number of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) being registered at the Office of the Public Guardian.
More than 128,000 LPAs were submitted for registration in the quarter April to June 2015 – this represents a 50 per cent increase on the same quarter for 2014 and the highest level of registration applications since LPAs were introduced in 2007. 242,000 LPAs were registered in the year 2012-2013, with this rising to 394,000 in 2013-2014.
“More and more people contact me due to articles they have read in the press or as a result of knowing someone who did not have an LPA in place and then had to undertake a Court of Protection application. LPAs have been, and continue to be, well publicised which is pleasing given the difficulties experienced by families when LPAs are not put in place and someone later becomes incapable, leaving them unable to enter into an LPA.”
New versions of both Property & Finance and Health & Welfare LPAs have been in use for some months and, since January 2016, are the only versions now capable of being used (unless, of course, clients have signed their LPAs prior to January 2016). The amended format was introduced as an attempt by the Office of the Public Guardian to simplify the procedure for both setting up LPAs and registration of the same.
Whilst it is hoped that the simplification of such forms will encourage people to undertake completion of an LPA without professional advice, Elaine believes that many people would benefit from more specialist advice. She said: “Whilst the completion of an LPA might be seen by some as the simple completion of a form, there are many decisions and issues to consider before even putting pen to paper! Frequently I receive instructions from people who have started the application themselves only to find they are becoming bogged down or unsure of various decisions they need to make.
“As with the drafting of Wills, completion of an LPA by a qualified professional helps to ensure that the document drafted works for the individual concerned and will cover as many horrific scenarios as possible. Peace of mind is imperative and the costs of having LPAs drawn up by a professional is insignificant in comparison with the cost if the forms have not been completed correctly and a person has later become incapable.”