LPA could save the day for your loved ones

Published: Fri Feb 12 2010

With complaints continuing to rise against the Court of Protection since the Court was set up to manage the affairs of people who have become mentally incapable, Oxley and Coward Solicitors of Rotherham are advising the public to protect themselves and their loved ones against the consequences of any future mental illness or accident by making Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) a priority.

By having a registered LPA in place, people can relax, safe in the knowledge that should they become mentally incapable, their own chosen representative will have the authority to act as their attorney on their behalf and in their best interests - without referral to the Court of Protection.

This is an important consideration when people realise the delay and expense that can be entailed by having to apply to be appointed a deputy by the Court of Protection – a Court that has received 1,500 complaints and counting, not to mention the criticism it has faced over red tape and inefficiencies. Some relatives are waiting up to six months to be given control of their loved one’s affairs – with the loved one often left in limbo until the issues are resolved.

Horror stories include a wife who had to get the Court’s permission every time she wanted to sign a cheque for more than £500 after an accident left her husband in a coma and in another case, a brother was told it could take 21 weeks and incur a fee of £400 to apply for funds for increased nursing home fees. All could have been avoided with an LPA in place.

LPAs are not something people immediately consider, because as with Wills, few of us wish to contemplate illness or our own mortality. But when the latest available statistics reveal that some 2,000,000 people in England and Wales lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves and a further 15,000 people under the age of 65 have dementia, the benefits of making an LPA are compelling.

"Given these alarming new statistics, it is important that we all plan ahead," said Oxley and Coward Partner Jayne Jackson." For those already suffering from the onset of dementia, it’s not too late to take action, but in this case it is essential to find a lawyer who understands your situation as soon as possible," concluded Jayne.

For advice and guidance on Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), including a FREE initial discussion, contact Jayne Jackson on 01709 510999 or e-mail probatedept@oxcow.co.uk

In calling for greater awareness of LPAs, Oxley and Coward have added their voice to that of the Justice Minister Judith Prentice, who in an interview on the BBC’s Today programme, encouraged solicitors to advise their clients and the public on the advantages of LPAs.

As with any legal document, the LPA is only valid if the person signing it is capable of understanding what they are signing and the consequences, so it must be put in place while the person is still capable. Once signed, the LPA can be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, the administrative arm of the Court of Protection – a process that can take several months before the LPA becomes effective.

"With an ever aging population, the LPA is going to be viewed increasingly as just as important as a Will, explained Jayne, "on the one hand we have greater life expectancy, but as we all live longer, illnesses like Alzheimer’s are becoming more prevalent. An LPA gives a friend or family member chosen by you the means to look after your affairs in the simplest and least burdensome way, while giving you the peace of mind that whatever life may bring, your wishes will be adhered to."

The alternative is that in the event of your illness or incapacity, some unlucky family member will be saddled with dealing with the courts, producing annual accounts and paying legal and Court fees until the day you die – with no guarantee that your wishes are ever taken into account. Oxley & Coward Solicitors provides advice on legal and financial matters for people suffering from dementia through the Alzheimer’s Society as a member of LawNet - a network of independent, quality assured law firms throughout the UK and Ireland.

Photograph and caption
Jayne Jackson, Partner at Oxley & Coward Solicitors.

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Ref: OXCOW049 – LPAs
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