The good news is that number of people registering for lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) has increased by over 190% since 2013. 
However, research by Direct Line Life Insurance has highlighted that many people still assume that their loved ones can make decisions on their behalf, if they if they are unable to make decisions themselves. 
According to the research, over a third of respondents didn’t know what an LPA was or why it would be important. Only about one in 10 (14%) had made an LPA. 
The right time to make an LPA 
The perfect time to make an LPA is when you are fit and healthy and have full capacity to make decisions. 
Without the worry of any immediate issues or concerns, you can think clearly about which trusted friends or relatives you would like to make decisions on your behalf if you were ever injured or unwell. 
You can have a positive conversation with your future attornies about your views and wishes. It’s important that they understand how you feel about a range of subjects relating to your health, wellbeing and finances so that they can make the best possible decisions on your behalf. 
An LPA for your wellbeing 
Many people assume that choosing an attorney is something you should do in later life, and it is certainly important to make decisions about your health and care as you grow older. 
However, many younger people leading busy active lives don’t take time to imagine what might happen to their partner or children if they have a sudden illness or accident. 
Using a health and welfare LPA you can give someone who knows you well control over medical decisions and treatment. If you don’t take this step, your loved ones will not have authority to make decisions on your behalf. While medical professionals will normally listen to the views of your loved ones, they can make the final decisions about your immediate treatment or longer-term care. 
An LPA for your money and property 
Without an LPA, joint bank accounts can be frozen and money in personal accounts can’t be accessed until the Court of Protection appoints a deputy to make financial decisions on your behalf. 
When the process is straightfoward this is likely to take four months, but if there are any complications it can take much longer. It is also quite an expensive process and there are often ongoing fees. 
The costs and time delays can cause families serious financial difficulties in both the short- and longer-term. 
Concerns and issues about LPAs 
By 2026, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) predicts 14.3million people will be aged 65 and over. According to the NHS, there are already over half a million people with a diagnosis of dementia, so the question of capacity is a fast-growing concern. 
While it’s encouraging that more people are arranging LPAs while they have the capacity, there is also a risk that some attorneys might not be appropriate. 
The Office of Public Guardian (OPG) which manages LPAs made 465 applications in 2017/18 to remove or censure attorneys; an increase of almost 200 from the previous year. Making inappropriate gifts and not acting in the someone’s best interests are amongst the most common issues. Safeguarding investigations also increased by almost 50% in 2017/18. 
Take control now so that you can be confident you have chosen the right attornies for you and that they clearly understand your wishes. 
Contact a reliable professional to give you advice, talk with the people you would like to appoint as your attornies, and register your LPAs with the OPC. 
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