It is well known that people with dementia are at risk of financial abuse – particularly if they don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
This is according to a recently published report from the International Longevity Centre (ILC), which concluded that “enacting a lasting power of attorney (LPA) is the single best thing that people with dementia can do to protect themselves financially in the long term.”
An LPA is a legal document that allows a person (the ‘donor’) to appoint somebody they trust to act on their behalf (the ‘attorney’) should they become incapable of making decisions for themselves. This could be a spouse, a child or a trusted friend, for example. You can make an LPA for financial and property, or health and welfare reasons – many people choose to make an LPA for both.
In May 2022, the government announced a ‘revamp’ of the LPA process, setting out proposals for new safeguards to protect vulnerable people from fraud and financial abuse and introducing a fully online application system to make the process easier for applicants and their loved ones.
While these changes have yet to come into force, it’s encouraging to see the government’s commitment to making it easier for people to set up these vital legal protections.
Having difficult conversations
Nobody wants to think about the possibility of becoming unwell or losing their ability to make decisions. It can be difficult to open up these kinds of conversations with family members; after all, things such as money, illness and dementia are unlikely to make for a particularly cheerful discussion.
The key thing to understand about an LPA, however, is that it must be registered when you are mentally fit to do so. If you lose mental capacity and don’t have an LPA, you can’t apply for one retrospectively.
Instead, your loved ones will have to go through the complicated process of applying to the Court of Protection for a deputyship – with your financial affairs and welfare hanging in the balance until the deputyship is eventually granted.
It is also important to remember that losing mental capacity is something that can happen to anybody at any time. Aside from dementia, a person could lose mental capacity due to a stroke or brain damage, or after developing a serious mental health condition.
Opening up discussions with your family at an early stage means that you can get this key protection in place and have the peace of mind that your affairs will be taken care of no matter what happens.
Think of it like insurance
We think nothing of taking out buildings or contents insurance to protect our homes or possessions. Many of us have life insurance so that our loved ones will be financially protected if we were to pass away.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is no different. It is a legal protection that can be put in place just in case. And just like other types of insurance, it could protect you and your loved ones from a great deal of stress and difficulty down the line.
At Woodfines, our friendly lawyers can take you through the whole process of registering an LPA and can even act as your attorney should you wish. Let us help you ensure that your future wellbeing is in safe hands.
Contact our Private Client team on 0344 967 2505 or at email@example.com.
by Zara Bracegirdle
Senior Associate, Woodfines Private Client team
Advertising feature with Woodfines Solicitors