This is despite the drastic benefit it could have later down the line, providing the carer with the ability to act in the best interests of the person that they care for, should they lose capacity.
The two kinds of Lasting Power of Attorney are designed to deal with decisions relating to the differing aspects of someone’s life. It may be recommended that both the ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ and ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA are taken out in order to ensure consistency in regard to decision making.
The former can only be used by the attorneys when the person has lost capacity, in order to make the relevant decisions within a reasonable time in light of the circumstances. In contrast, the latter can be used by the attorneys at any time with the donors permission. It will also remain valid if the donor loses capacity, provided the individual has specified this.
As well as everyday decision making, the appointed carer will have the ability to carry out life changing decisions for the person who has lost capacity, including treatment and finances. As well as enabling them to provide formal and practical support, an LPA can also provide a carer with confidence in the decisions that they make.
However, despite the benefits, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are often dismissed by carers, on the basis that they’re complex or expensive. Given the serious powers than an LPA awards, drafting one does take a little time, but according to carers who have taken them out, this cost is more than outweighed by the benefit. The same applies to expense; the Office for the Public Guardian has lowered the cost of taking out an LPA, with an exemption available for those on lower incomes.
Commissioned by the Carer’s Trust, a recent survey by YouGov revealed that 82% of respondents had not made an LPA. This suggests a lack of awareness around the benefits of an LPA and the peace of mind it can bring to someone who simply wants decisions to be made in the best interests of a loved one.
Educating clients is essential when it comes to Lasting Powers of Attorney. Whilst the benefits of writing a will are often known, understanding around the benefits of an LPA may be less common.
A guide to the Mental Capacity Act providing further information for carers can be accessed here.
This article was amended on 25/07/17 in regard to when the different types of LPA can be used.