Few of us want to think that we might lose our mental capacity or how we would cope with our financial affairs if we did. Yet, given the statistics – there are around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, of whom 40,000 are under 65, with this number forecast to exceed one million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Society – it is worth considering, especially as there is a way to plan ahead and ease the potential burden on your relatives should it happen to you.
One answer is to create a lasting power of attorney (LPA), a legal tool which gives someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf about your financial affairs (or health and welfare) should you lose the mental capacity to do so.
The crucial thing is to set up an LPA while you are still mentally capable, well before you need it. If you become mentally incapacitated later in life and don’t have an LPA in place, your relatives can face long, distressing delays and expense in applying to the court to take control. And don’t assume that because you have set up an LPA, you have lost control. You can choose whether it can be used either before, or only when, you lose mental capacity.
To make an LPA you need to complete a free LPA form, sign it and register it with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). To protect your interests, the form must also be signed by someone independent – a “certificate provider” – to state that you understand the LPA and have not been pressurised into signing it. This can be a professional, such as your doctor, social worker or a solicitor who is not a family member or an attorney and will not benefit from the LPA.
The official government tool to help you create an LPA can be found online.
There is a £110 application fee to register each LPA with the OPG, though if your income is below £12,000 or you receive certain state benefits, you may qualify for a lower or waived fee. You do not have to seek legal advice or use a solicitor to create an LPA.
We can provide a 'Certificate Provider Service' for a set fee plus travelling expenses to private clients.